Who will Narendra Modi pick to handle Gujarat as he eyes Delhi?

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
  • |
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2013 22:13 IST
Win or lose, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has to move beyond the state now in his new role as the BJP's prime ministerial face ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

This has triggered talk of the BJP strongman appointing a deputy chief minister to run the Gujarat administration.
According to party insiders, a reshuffle in the state cabinet - with induction of a few more ministers - is likely. There is, however, no clarity on Modi's successor if he becomes the PM.
"The cabinet reshuffle is overdue as he has not undertaken any such exercise after the assembly polls," a BJP MLA said.
Anandiben Patel, Modi's confidante and minister, is among the frontrunners to replace him if he moves to Delhi.
Anandiben, 68, holds key portfolios such as urban development and revenue. She is also in charge of Ahmedabad city and district, the political bastion of the BJP in Gujarat.
She is not a mass leader but enjoys Modi's absolute trust. Anandiben, however, is seen to be at odds with Amit Shah, another powerful protégé of Modi.
Nitin Patel, the number 2 in the Modi cabinet, is also said to be in the reckoning. The finance and health minister recently presided over a cabinet meeting when Modi was unwell.
It was the first time in Modi's 12-year rule that a minister was allowed to do so. Nitin, 58, has been an old guard of the BJP, having been a Keshubhai loyalist before moving to the Modi camp.
If Modi, however, decides on someone who has sound relations with big business houses, he could promote energy minister Saurabh Patel, 55, an MBA from the US.
After the assembly polls, Saurabh was elevated from junior minister to cabinet rank. The son-in-law of Ramnikbhai Ambani, the elder brother of the late Dhirubhai Ambani, Saurabh is an experienced minister and understands governance issues.

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