Ahmedabad: Vijay Rupani will return as Gujarat Chief Minister and Nitin Patel will continue to be his deputy.
This decision was taken at a crucial meeting of newly elected BJP MLAs in Gandhinagar on Friday evening. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the central observer for selection of the CM, announced that Rupani will lead the party in Gujarat.
The swearing-in ceremony is likely to take place on December 25. Rupani, along with deputy CM Nitin Patel and other cabinet members, tendered his resignation at the Raj Bhavan, paving the way for a new BJP government in the state.
Rupani was always the front-runner for the CM's post. Moreover, the BJP knew replacing Rupani at this juncture would send the signal that all is not well.
In the recently concluded polls, BJP retained power by winning 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly, while the Congress claimed 77. Six seats went to others, including three Independents.
Although Rupani, the caretaker CM, was tipped to continue as the chief minister, names of at least three other leaders were also doing the rounds — Union ministers Smriti Irani and Mansukh Mandaviya, and Nitin Patel.
One reason why other names were being discussed may be the party’s less than expected performance in the elections. The party secured 115 seats in the 2012 assembly elections and ended up with just 99 this time. This is being seen as a setback for the BJP, and a ground for change of guard.