State BJP president Vijay Rupani was on Friday named the next chief minister of Gujarat while senior minister Nitin Patel – who was a frontrunner till the last moment – was made the deputy chief minister.
Rupani’s appointment comes after former CM Anandiben Patel resigned from the post earlier this week citing her age, adding that she wanted younger leaders to takeover the reigns of the party prior to the 2017 state assembly elections.
Like most BJP leaders, Rupani has had his roots in the RSS and the ABVP, the students’ wing of the BJP.
Prior to contesting the Rajkot West assembly seat that was vacated by Vajubhai Vala, who was appointed the Governor of Karnataka, Rupani’s political career was confined to Saurashtra region of the state.
He was a councillor and subsequently the mayor of the Rajkot civic body, and also a Member of Parliament from Rajkot.
Over the past year-and-a-half, Rupani gained a political stature within the BJP and emerged as a front runner for the post of CM.
During the Patidar reservation stir, he was seen as the leader with the healing touch, often making the peacemaking moves even as disgruntled Patels threatened to desert the BJP.
But, his proximity to outgoing chief minister Anandiben Patel seems to have gone against him, considering the fact that Anandiben and BJP president Amit Shah never shared a good relationship and were always at loggerheads.
Vijay Rupani is extremely close to Amit Shah and it has worked in his favour.
Anandiben Patel who put up a spirited fight on behalf of Nitin Patel in the BJP MLAs meet was finally asked to tell Nitin Patel to accept the post of deputy chief minister.
Post the announcement, the BJP leadership congratulated Rupani and wished him the very best.