GANDHINAGAR: After a strong competition with Congress in Gujarat BJP is expected to form the government on December 25 and Vijay Rupani and Nitin Patel are likely to be named as the Chief Minister and deputy CM respectively.
The 61 year old Vijay Rupani was the Chief Minister of Gujarat since 7 August 2016 and a member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly representing Rajkot West. The BJP has never lost Rajkot West since 1985. Rupani retain the Rajkot West seat by over 63,000 votes.
The BJP in all chance will want Rupani and Patel to hold on to their posts until the 2019 general election.
The source said Rupani was an acceptable face in the party and the BJP did well in the just ended Assembly elections in his home district. But there are grievances against Rupani and Patel, with the BJP seat tally not touching even 100 — compared to BJP President Amit Shah's repeated claims that it will win 150 seats. BJP won the election with 99 seats out of 182 in the Assembly — its lowest tally ever in the 22-year reign in Gujarat.
The saffron party lost a sizable number of seats in Saurashtra region where, in some districts, it failed to capture even a single seat.
Among those said with chief ministerial ambitions is Union Minister of State for Agriculture Purshottam Rupala, who has a good standing in the Patidar community. The others are union minister Mansukh Mandavia, another Patidar, and Rajya Sabha member Smriti Irani.
"We are carrying out the necessary procedure for the new government to be formed. The central team from the party comprising observers like Arun Jaitely are here," said state BJP President Jitu Vaghani.
But party sources admit that there will definitely be new faces in the new cabinet.
At least four cabinet ministers were not fielded in the Assembly election while seven ministers were defeated.
"About a dozen new faces will join the ministry," said a party insider.
The swearing in ceremony is likely to be held on Christmas Day and the most likely venue will be Sardar Patel Stadium which will also be attended by PM Narendra Modi.
BJP national President Amit Shah, during the campaigning in the State, had clearly said that the party was fighting the polls under the leadership of CM Rupani and Deputy CM Nitin Patel, indicating that they will continue to hold the post in the new government. On Monday BJP spokesperson I K Jadeja, while briefing the media, had said both the CM and deputy CM would continue to hold their positions. Speculation is also rife that a Dalit or Tribal may be propped up by the BJP to appeal to their sizeable population in the State.
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