Bhupendra Patel, the MLA from Gujarat's Ghatlodia constituency has been elected as the new chief minister of Gujarat, according to several media reports.
The announcement was made by Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar at Gujarat's Gandhinagar after the BJP concluded its core committee meeting at Kamalam. Patel (59) was unanimously elected BJP legislature party leader. His name was proposed by outgoing Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, whose resignation from the post on Saturday surprised many.
Most of the 112 MLAs of the party in the 182-member Assembly were present at the meeting, BJP sources said.
"Bhupendra Patel elected as the new leader of BJP legislative party", Tomar, Gujarat in-charge, said after the party's legislative meeting.
Patel will take oath as the Chief Minister of Gujarat on Monday, state BJP president CR Paatil said. Talking to reporters on Sunday, Paatil said, "Bhupendra Patel will take oath as the chief minister...Only the chief minister will be sworn in tomorrow."
He added the new cabinet will be formed after consultation with the senior leaders in a couple of days. No discussion was held in the legislature party meeting about the deputy chief minister's post, he said. Patel, who was also present, told reporters that he was grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief J P Nadda, and Union minister Amit Shah for the trust they reposed in him.
He said he was also grateful to the trust reposed in him by the Gujarat leadership, including outgoing chief minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, CR Paatil and other leaders.
"The government has worked well so that development reaches the last person. We will plan anew and discuss with the organisation to take forward the development works," he said.
Patel, who holds a diploma in civil engineering, was earlier the chairman of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). He had won his Ghatlodiya seat by a margin of 117,000 votes in 2017, the largest margin in that poll. He belongs to the influential Patel community. Mandaviya is from Patidar community.
There was talk that Praful Khoda Patel, administrator of the union territories of Lakshadweep and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu and Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Health Minister, were among the contenders.
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, a political observer said.
The development comes in the wake of Vijay Rupani's resignation on Sunday, 15 months before the election to the 182-member Assembly that is due in December 2022. Rupani (65), the fourth chief minister to demit office in BJP-ruled states during the coronavirus pandemic, was sworn in as chief minister in December 2017.
Rupani became the fourth chief minister to step down from the top post in BJP-ruled states in six months. He quit a year ahead of Assembly polls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state.
It is still unclear what prompted the decision however, political observers noted that his "soft-spoken" image may have contributed to his undoing of being a "weak" chief minister, who allowed bureaucrats to overrule the political leadership in taking key decisions.
He met Governor Acharya Devvrat at his residence on Saturday and tendered his resignation.
After tendering his resignation, Rupani thanked the BJP central leadership and the prime minister. "I want to thank BJP for giving me this opportunity to serve as Gujarat's chief minister. During my tenure, I got the opportunity to add to the development of the state under PM Modi's leadership."
"It has been a five-year journey for development of Gujarat under guidance of PM Modi. Now, to further develop the state, with new energy and power, I have decided to resign as chief minister," Rupani was quoted by news agency ANI.
With inputs from agencies