Vijay Rupani’s appointment as the Gujarat chief minister has not come as a surprise. For the last few months, he had been virtually calling the shots though Anandiben Patel headed the BJP government in the state.
The 61-year-old MLA from Rajkot is known for being extremely close to Amit Shah, the BJP national president.
Rupani, who was the transport and water supply minister in Patel’s cabinet, is also the state BJP president. That he was allowed to hold two posts despite the party’s much touted one-man-one-post policy underlined his unmatched clout within the state BJP.
Hailing from Saurashtra – dominated by Patidars - Rupani belongs to the Jain community. Starting as a RSS volunteer, he became the Rajkot mayor and later the party’s general secretary.
He was made the Gujarat BJP chief in February this year.
Rupani’s influence on party decisions was on display when he announced the state government’s decision to grant 10 percent reservations for economically backward classes, including the Patels, some months ago. Chief minister Patel was present but remained a mute spectator. Though struck down by the high court later, it was a big political decision aimed at pacifying agitating Patels ahead of next year’s assembly elections.
Speculations had been rife since then about an impending change of guard in the state.