Vijay Rupani has been elected Gujarat Chief Minister once again. Nitin Patel will be his deputy.
Vijay Rupani has been elected as Gujarat CM once again. Nitin Patel will be his deputy. The news comes four days after BJP returned to power once again in the state for the sixth record time. A decision in this regard was taken by BJP legislators in the state. The BJP’s victory margin in the polls was truncated as the party was limited to 99 seats, way short of the Target 150 set by party chief Amit Shah and the 115 seats it had won in 2012 Gujarat Assembly elections. The assembly polls in the state this year witnessed a surprise surge in the number of Congress seats (77).
On the counting day, Congress appeared giving a tough fight to the ruling party. To win the Gujarat elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to lead an extensive and intense campaign. As the BJP was reduced to just 99 seats, there were reports that the saffron party may replace Rupani with a new face, who has wider appeal and can secure the Gujarat citadel for PM Modi in 2019. One of the surprise name floated by media reports was of Union minister Smriti Irani. However, she had outrightly rejected such reports. “If there is a ‘gali’ ka election, you will hear my name. I am one of those fortunate ones who just make a name without making an attempt, whatsoever. I think that is just wishful thinking on someone’s behalf. I think the party president has spoken on it, the parliamentary board decides it. I am definitely not in contention,” Irani had told India Today.
On Friday, some reports said BJP will continue with Rupani at the helm of affairs but with a little tweak. CNN-News 18 and India Today had reported that BJP will continue with Rupani as the CM but it is likely to adopt the Uttar Pradesh model of having two deputy chief ministers along with the CM. While the first deputy CM will be Nitin Patel, the third could be a tribal leader, say reports.
In the previous government in the state, the BJP had a CM and a deputy CM (Nitin Patel) on the top of the hierarchy. The saffron party had also fought the elections with Rupani and Patel as CM and deputy CM faces. After the poll results were announced on December 18, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also denied a change of the chief minister. When asked who the next Chief Minister of Gujarat will be or whether the party high command was thinking of replacing him or whether the current CM was still the front-runner for the post, Jaitley said, ”I think a CM who gets you 49% votes, is a popular CM of a popular government, and a leader.”