Vijay Rupani was on Sunday sworn in as the new chief minister of Gujarat, heading a 25-member ministry in which nine from the previous Cabinet, including some considered as loyalists of his predecesso
Vijay Rupani was on Sunday sworn in as the new chief minister of Gujarat, heading a 25-member ministry in which nine from the previous Cabinet, including some considered as loyalists of his predecessor Anandiben Patel, were dropped.
Nitin Patel took oath as the deputy chief minister, a post created for the first time in the state which goes to polls next year.
Eight Cabinet-rank ministers, including Nitin Patel, and 16 ministers of the state were sworn in. The total strength the ministry, including the chief minister, is 25.
Governor O.P. Kohli administered the oath of office and secrecy to 60-year-old Rupani, a first-time MLA who is considered close to BJP president Amit Shah, and Nitin Patel at a grand ceremony attended by the top BJP leaders.
Ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, the BJP appears to have tried to strike a caste balance by inducting eight Patel leaders, eight OBCs, three from Kshatriya community, two representatives of the tribal community and one each from brahmin, jain, sindhi and dalit communities in the new council of ministers.
There is also an attempt to give representation to all regions: Saurashtra, north, south and central Gujarat. The Cabinet has only one woman MLA — Nirmala Wadhwani from Naroda.
Mr Rupani is the 16th chief minister of Gujarat. A devoted RSS member since his school days, Mr Rupani, hails from the politically-significant Saurashtra region and is known for his hard work and keeping a low profile.
Talking to reporters after the oath-taking ceremony, Mr Rupani indicated that allocation of portfolios may take place on Monday. “Our first Cabinet meet will take place tomorrow. We will discuss the roadmap of Gujarat’s future,” he said.
On August 3, Anandiben Patel submitted her resignation to the governor after the BJP parliamentary board accepted her offer to quit the post.
The BJP replaced Nitin Patel, who was considered the top candidate for the job, fearing tough challenges amid the Patel quota agitation and the recent protest by the dalit community over cow vigilantism.
Mr Patel told reporters that various geographical and social factors had to be kept in mind while finalising the Council of Ministers.
“The Cabinet is formed keeping in mind various geographical and social factors. Those who are not part of cabinet now have also done a wonderful job and I am sure that those who have been inducted today will also work for the betterment of the society,” said Mr Patel.
In the reshuffle, former minister of state for home Rajnibhai Patel and women and child development minister Vasuben Trivedi, both considered as loyalists of former CM Anandiben, were dropped from the new Cabinet.
Among those dropped are finance minister Saurabh Patel, social justice minister Ramanlal Vora and MoS for science and technology Govind Patel.
The eight Cabinet ministers who took oath today are: Nitin Patel, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Ganpat Vasava, Babu Bokhiria, Dilip Thakor, Jayesh Radadiya, Chiman Saparaia and Atmaram Parmar.
Mr Chudasama and Mr Bokhiria served as the Cabinet ministers in the Anandiben Patel government, while Mr Thakor and Mr Radadiya were MoS. Mr Vasava was the Speaker of the Assembly, while Mr Parmar was the deputy Speaker.
Rajnibhai Patel, Vasuben Trivedi, Chhatrasinh Mori, Govind Patel, Tarachand Chheda and Kantibhai Gamit have also been shown the door.
Of the 16 ministers of state, eight were also part of the previous ministry.
The ministers of state retained from previous ministry include Shanker Chaudhary, Pradeepsinh Jadeja, Jayanti Kavadiya, Nanubhai Vanani, Parshottam Solanki, Jasa Barad, Bachu Khabad and Jaydrathsinh Parmar.
The eight new faces are — Ishwarsinh Patel, Vallabh Kakadiya, Rajendra Trivedi, Keshaji Chauhan, Rohit Patel, Vallabh Vaghasiya, Nirmala Wadhwani and Shabdsharan Tadvi.
Senior minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama expressed confidence that the BJP will retain the power in 2017.
“We don’t see any problem... As we always keep our feet on the ground and work for development of the people. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that we will win with huge majority in 2017,” said Mr Chudasama when asked if the Patel agitation or dalit anger could hamper the BJP’s chances.
The ceremony was held at Mahatma Mandir here in the presence of top BJP leaders including its president Amit Shah, veteran leader L.K. Advani, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and Union science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan.
Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana — Devendra Fadnavis, Raghubar Das and Manohar Lal Khattar, respectively — were also present at the cermony. Former CM Anandiben Patel was also present.