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BJP’s Vijay Rupani sworn in as new Gujarat Chief Minister

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijay Rupani was today sworn in as Chief Minister of Gujarat in a ceremony that was attended by BJP heavyweights Arun Jaitley, Amit Shah and LK Advani. Nitin Patel was sworn in as Rupani's deputy and 23 others took
India TV Politics Desk Gandhinagar August 07, 2016 12:50 IST
India TV Politics Desk

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijay Rupani was today sworn in as Chief Minister of Gujarat in a ceremony that was attended by BJP heavyweights Arun Jaitley, Amit Shah and LK Advani. Nitin Patel was sworn in as Rupani's deputy and 23 others took the oath for spots in the state cabinet.

 

Governor OP Kohli administered the oath of office and secrecy to Rupani and others at the Mahatma Mandir in state capital Gandhinagar.

On Saturday, Rupani (60) and his deputy Nitin Patel called on Kohli and staked claim to form the government. The first woman Chief Minister of Gujarat Anandiben Patel had on Monday announced her resignation through a Facebook post, necessitating the change of guard in the state.

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

In a dramatic turnaround the BJP central leadership had on Friday decided on Rupani, an Amit Shah loyalist and state party chief, to replace Anandiben as the CM, instead of Nitin Patel who was the front-runner till the last moment.

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 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.

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.

Under the leadership of Anandiben, the BJP had suffered losses in the civic polls last year, with the opposition Congress making handsome gains at the expense of its saffron rival.

In the last two years, BJP has been at loggerheads with its loyal vote bank of Patidars who have been demanding OBC quota and launched violent protests for the same.

A devoted RSS member since his school days, Rupani, hailing from politically significant Saurashtra region, is known for hard work but keeps a low profile.

Rupani, who represents Rajkot West seat, joined Jan Sangh in 1971 and has been associated with BJP since its formation. His elevation to the top post is also being seen as a recognition to the Jain community, which was recently accorded minority status by the state government.

Born in Rangoon (now Yangon, in Myanmar) to Ramniklal Rupani in 1956, he grew up in Rajkot where he joined RSS as a school boy. He pursued BA and then LLB.

As the chairman of the state tourism corporation, he headed 'Khushbu Gujarat Ki' campaign to popularise the state as a tourist destination.

Between 2006-12, he was a member of Rajya Sabha. During this period he was a part of various Parliamentary committees on water resources, food, public distribution and public undertaking.

In October 2014, he won the Assembly bye-election from Rajkot West after the sitting MLA Vajubhai Vala resigned upon appointment as Karnataka Governor.

On February 19, Rupani became the state BJP president, replacing R C Faldu, which was seen as a victory for the Amit Shah faction in state BJP.

Yesterday, Rupani tendered his resignation from the post of state BJP president.

"I have today submitted my resignation as Gujarat BJP president to party national president Amit Shah," Rupani said.

Rupani and Patel also went to meet former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel at his residence here to seek his blessings.