Four in race to be Gujarat CM after Anandiben Patel steps down

Four names are doing the rounds as possible choice of the next Gujarat CM after Anandiben Patel finally decided to stand down. Prominent names that crop up include Vijay Rupani, Nitinbhai Patel, Saurabh Patel and Bhupendrasinh Chudasama.

Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel finally decided to stand down weighed down by never-ending agitations and other issues that marred her two-year stint in office. Anandiben Patel, who took over from Narendra Modi on 22 May 2014, cited the 75-year cut-off age advocated by Prime Minister Modi to bow out of office.

The chief minister's decision ostensibly stemmed from the fact that she has never been in control as chief minister of Gujarat and was unable to fit into the shoes of Narendra Modi who ruled the state for 12 straight years.

Under her chief ministership prime minister Modi also saw an erosion of ground support in his home state. With increasing pressure from the party leadership after the Una protests and Patidar agitation, Patel was looking less and less like the leader who could take the BJP to victory in 2017. Local body polls held in December 2015 also saw the Congress doing well reinforcing the view that hers was not the winning hand the party was looking for.

Anandiben Patel's offer on Monday to resign, that too on her Facebook page, saying it was time for new leadership to take over since she is soon going to turn 75, however, took everyone by surprise.

According to BJP insiders, there are at least four names doing the rounds for the next Gujarat CM. These include Vijay Rupani, Nitinbhai Patel, Saurabh Patel and Bhupendrasinh Chudasama. 

Vijay Rupani who represents Rajkot West constituency, is a cabinet minister and Gujarat State Bharatiya Janata Party president as well. A Jain Baniya by caste, Rupani is known to be quite close to both PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah. Moreover, he has an excellent rapport with RSS leaders and its top brass.

Nitinbhai Patel who represents Mehsana constituency, is known as the most prominent Patel face in the party. He is cabinet minister for health, medical education, family welfare, road and building, capital project in government. He has an RSS background and has close ties with Sangh leaders.

Saurabh Patel, who represents Vadodara's Akota constituency, holds several important portfolios, including energy and petrochemicals, mines and minerals, etc. He is one of the most educated ministers of Gujarat government and holds an MBA from US. Interestingly, Saurabh Patel is the husband of the first cousin of Mukesh and Anil Ambani.

Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, who represents Ahmedabad's Dholka constituency, is in the council of ministers of Gujarat. He is a cabinet minister of education, food and civil supplies, consumer affairs and science and technology. Bhupendrasinh is a lawyer by profession.