Vijay Rupani, who was the surprise choice as the successor to Anandiben Patel, took oath as the Gujarat Chief Minister in Gandhinagar on Sunday.

Nitin Patel has also been sworn in as the state’s Deputy Chief Minister. 

The decision to make Rupani, an Amit Shah loyalist and RSS member, as the Gujarat CM shocked many as Nitin Patel was backed by Anandiben Patel and was seen as the front-runner for the Chief Ministerial post till the last moment. 

Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where BJP is in power, is grappling with unrest due to the Patel quota stir and attacks on Dalits, ahead of the high-stake Assembly elections scheduled next year. 

Rupani met Governor O P Kohli on Saturday and staked a claim to form the government, a day after he was elected by BJP legislators to succeed Anandiben Patel, with the central leadership playing a vital role in the choice.

After the meeting with the Governor, BJP state in-charge Dinesh Sharma said 60-year-old Rupani will take oath on Sunday at 12.40 PM. 

While Rupani was accompanied by Deputy CM designate Nitin Patel and other state leaders, outgoing Chief Minister Anandiben Patel was conspicuous by her absence. “We have told the Governor that the BJP Legislature party has endorsed the names of Vijay Rupani as new Chief Minister and Nitin Patel as Deputy Chief Minister,” Sharma said after the meeting.

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He, however, evaded a direct reply to a question on Anandiben’s absence, saying, “She was present when she resigned. Today (only) those who have been chosen are present.” 

Anandiben had insisted on Nitin Patel as her successor, while Shah stood firm by Rupani. As a compromise formula, Patel was elevated to be Deputy Chief Minister after intervention of the central leadership, including Modi.

Selection of Rupani, who belongs to the Jain Baniya community, is being seen as a deft move by the party to avoid the impression of favouring any major segment of the society over others.

While the Patel community has been on a warpath with their demand for OBC quota, the state has witnessed Dalit unrest over the widely condemned Una flogging incident which seems to have dented the image of the government.

Rupani, who came up through the RSS, is being assigned the task of leading BJP in the polls at a time when BJP is struggling to retain its political base. The party has also been affected by the absence of leaders of Modi’s calibre in the state.

(With inputs from PTI)

(Feature image source: Twitter | @ANI_news)