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Health Minister Nitin Patel leads race to succeed Anandiben Patel as Gujarat CM

India TV Politics Desk Ahmedabad 02 Aug 2016, 11:08:14 AM IST
India TV Politics Desk

With Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel resigning from her post, talks are already on about who will be her successor. Among the frontrunners for the CM race include Health Minister Nitin Patel, Speaker Ganpat Vasava, Finance Minister Saurabh Patel and Transport Minister Vijay Rupani.

While an announcement on the post is expected in a week, reports suggest that the CM will be someone who is a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.

If reports are to be believed, the race for the CM’s post has narrowed to one candidate - Nitin Patel (60), a Cabinet Minister for Health, Medical Education, Family Welfare, Road and Building, Capital Project in the outgoing Cabinet of Anandiben.

Elected to Gujarat Legislative Assembly from Mehsana in 2012, Nitin, a seasoned politician, worked as a second-in-command of CM Anandiben. He had in past headed Water Supply, Urban Development and Urban Housing departments.

This is not the first time Nitin is being considered as a strong contender for the post. In 2014, when Narnedra Modi had left for New Delhi, Nitin had said that he ‘was ready to be the chief minister if the party asks him to take up the job’.

An adivasi from southern part of the state, Vasava’s appointment as the Chief Minister can help the BJP make inroads among the tribals, who constitute a massive 14 per cent of the total electorate. The tribals have emerged as a votebank for the Congress since their leader Amarsinh Chaudhary’s election as the CM in 1984.

Vasava (46) was first elected to the state Assembly in 2007. Modi, as a Gujarat CM, had inducted him into the Cabinet after the 2012 Assembly elections.

Saurabh Patel (57) is described as a refined politician. He is known for openly pro-industry stance but he is weak on Hindutva agenda.

Saurabh, who is close to PM Narendra Modi, holds two important portfolios -- Finance and Energy. He is known as the chief architect of power sector restructuring in the state. He is also an efficient administrator and the youngest among the four.

Rupani (59) holds the Transport and Water Supply portfolios. He is a Jain Baniya by caste. He is also the state BJP president.

Known to be close to both PM Modi and Amit Shah, Rupani has an excellent rapport with the RSS. Party believes that he is a good political strategist and can mobilise crowds.

Ending months of speculation, Gujarat’s first woman CM Anandiben Patel yesterday offered to resign in keeping with the party’s ‘tradition’ of leaders vacating their posts as they turn 75.

In a letter to BJP president Amit Shah, Patel said, “I turn 75 in November but I am requesting the party leadership to relieve me now to allow more time to the new incumbent.”

Patel, whose image had taken several beatings during the past over a year, said the state government’s ambitious biennial Vibrant Gujarat global investors meet is scheduled for January while the crucial state assembly elections fall in December 2017.

Neither Amit Shah nor party’s state unit chief Vijay Rupani expressed any surprise at this sudden move. Rather they praised ‘the spirit with which she has made the offer’.

Born in 1941, Anandiben Patel turns 75 on November 21.