Vijay Rupani, who today became the Gujarat Chief Minister, has been a devoted member of RSS since his school days and has apparently been rewarded for his proximity to BJP chief Amit Shah. The 60-year-old first-time MLA is known for his hard work and keeps a low profile. His elevation to the top post is also seen as recognition of his Jain community, which was recently accorded minority status by the state government. Rupani, who wields considerable influence in Saurashtra, a politically significant part of Gujarat, celebrated his birthday on August 2 with his wife and son at their house in Rajkot, his native town.
He was born in Rangoon, now Yangon, in Myanmar in 1956 and grew up in Rajkot where he joined RSS as a school boy. He pursued BA and then LLB. As the chairman of the state tourism corporation, he headed “Khushbu Gujarat Ki” campaign to popularise the state as a tourist destination. As a Rajya Sabha member from 2006-12, he was part of various parliamentary committees on water resources, food, public distribution, public undertaking, among others.
He was appointed the chairman of the Gujarat Municipal Finance Board in 2013. In October 2014, he won the Assembly by-polls from Rajkot West with a good margin after sitting MLA Vajubhai Vala resigned on becoming the Governor of Karnataka.
He had on February 19 become the state BJP chief, replacing R C Faldu, which was seen as a victory for the Amit Shah faction in the party’s state unit. Rupani, who served as the Transport Minister in Anandiben Patel’s Cabinet cut his teeth into politics in his college days when he joined ABVP, and got involved the Navnirman student’s agitation against corruption in public life in the 1970s. He was among the first to join the agitation on the call given by Jayprakash Narayan and had also spent nearly one year in Bhuj and Bhavnagar jails during the Emergency.
Rupani was elected as Rajkot civic body corporator for the first time in 1987, and was later appointed as the president of the city’s BJP unit.
Between 1988 and 1996, he served as the chairman of the Standing Committee of Rajkot Corporation and in 1996-97, he became the Mayor.His is also recognised for his efforts to develop Rajkot as an industrial hub in the Saurashtra region. Rupani has the distinction of serving as the state BJP’s general secretary four times on the trot. He was also the party spokesperson at the state level. On August 3, Anandiben Patel submitted her resignation to the Governor after BJP parliamentary board accepted her offer to quit the post.
On Friday, the BJP central leadership chose Rupani for the Chief Minister’s post instead of Nitin Patel who was considered top contender for the job in the poll-bound state. BJP replaced Patel with a new CM as it was facing tough challenges in the form of Patel quota agitation and recent protest by Dalit community over cow vigilantism. Assembly elections are due by 2017-end. The eight cabinet ministers who took oath today are: Nitin Patel, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Ganpat Vasava, Babu Bokhiria, Dilip Thakor, Jayesh Radadiya, Chiman Saparaia and Atmaram Parmar.
Chudasama and Bokhiria served as cabinet ministers in the Anandiben Patel government, while Thakor and Radadiya were MoS. Vasava was the Speaker of Assembly, while Parmar was the Deputy Speaker.
Rajnibhai Patel, Vasuben Trivedi, Chhatrasinh Mori, Govind Patel, Tarachand Chheda and Kantibhai Gamit have also been shown the door.
Of the 16 Ministers of State, eight were also part of the previous ministry.
Nitin Patel told reporters that various geographical and social factors had to be kept in mind while finalising the council of ministers.
“Cabinet is formed keeping in mind various geographical and social factors. Those who are not part of cabinet now have also done a wonderful job and I am sure that those who have been inducted today will also work for the betterment of the society,” said Patel.