In a surprise move, Bhupendra Patel was on 12 September elected as the new chief minister of Gujarat. The crucial decision was taken at a meeting of BJP leaders in Gandhinagar wherein Patel was unanimously elected BJP legislature party leader. Patel won the 2017 Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections from Ghatlodia constituency, defeating Congress candidate Shashikant Patel by over one lakh votes, the highest winning margin in the 2017 Gujarat polls.
Bhupendra Patel will succeed Vijay Rupani, who resigned from his post on 11 September, in a sudden announcement almost a year before the state goes to polls. He is now likely to meet the governor and stake claim to form the government.
BJP had appointed Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Prahlad Joshi as central observers for the legislature party meeting to elect the new chief minister. Tomar met state BJP chief CR Paatil on 12 September morning.
“Bhupendra Patel has been elected as the new leader of BJP legislative party. He will be sworn in as the Gujarat CM soon,” Union Minister and BJP’s Gujarat in-charge Tomar said after the party’s legislative meeting.
Rupani (65), the fourth chief minister to demit office in BJP-ruled states during the coronavirus pandemic, was sworn in as chief minister his second stint as chief minister – in December 2017. He first became the chief minister on 7 August 2016, following the resignation of incumbent Anandiben Patel, and continued in the office after the BJP’s victory in the 2017 Assembly elections.
Rupani said Bhupendrabhai Patel is “capable” while exuding confidence of BJP’s win in the forthcoming assembly election.
“Bhupendra Patel is capable. We believe BJP will win the upcoming elections in the state under his leadership,” he said.
Who is Bhupendra Patel
- Bhupendra Patel is known to be a protege of former chief minister Anandiben Patel.
- He is a first-time MLA from Ghatlodia seat, which was earlier held by Anandiben Patel.
- Earlier, Bhupendrabhai Patel served as a municipal councillor in Ahmedabad. He has served as the chairman of Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) and used to head the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation standing committee.
- He holds a diploma in civil engineering.
- According to a political observor, Bhupendra Patel’s name was not in the long list of probables being discussed in state political circles and in a way the first term MLA emerged as the dark horse.
- He belongs to the influential Patel community.