Bhupendra Patel, a first-time MLA, was sworn in as Gujarat’s new Chief Minister two days after Vijay Rupani and his entire cabinet quit, setting the stage for a reboot a year before polls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah attended the oath ceremony.
Bhupendra Patel, the BJP MLA from Ghatlodia seat held earlier by Anandiben Patel, was an unexpected choice after much speculation circling around other names like Union Ministers Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala, and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. .
Mr Patel, 59, emerged as a compromise candidate over more obvious choices.
The names of controversial Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel and Gujarat minister RC Faldu were also in circulation.
Mr Patel, who has a diploma in civil engineering, has been a member of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority. He won the 2017 Gujarat election by a record margin.
Vijay Rupani became the fourth Chief Minister to be replaced in BJP-ruled states this year. His handling of the second wave of Covid and his style of functioning are believed to be among the factors that drove him out. He was reportedly also perceived as too soft and ineffective.
Another reason for his replacement by Mr Patel is poll math. Mr Patel’s appointment is meant to mollify the powerful Patidar community, which has been upset with the BJP and has backed the opposition Congress’s Hardik Patel.
Mr Rupani’s exit mirrored his own takeover in 2016–16 months ahead of elections–after Anandiben Patel was removed as Chief Minister.