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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Will Modi appoint a deputy to run Gujarat?

Mahesh Langa, Hindustan Times  Ahmedabad, September 14, 2013
First Published: 01:23 IST(14/9/2013) | Last Updated: 11:14 IST(14/9/2013)

Gandhinagar was happy on Friday and, at the same time, tense.

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Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s elevation as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate brought cheer to the BJP. But a question being asked in Gandhinagar was whether he will appoint a deputy chief minister to run the state since he would get busy with national affairs.

The tension, palpable among the hopefuls, owed to the chosen one being in the reckoning for the next CM if Modi were to become the PM.

Sources in the government said a reshuffle was likely soon but nobody would even hazard a guess on deputy CM. “The cabinet reshuffle is overdue as he (Modi) has not undertaken any such exercise after the assembly polls,” said a senior BJP MLA.

The names doing the rounds are Anandiben Patel, the urban development and revenue minister who is Modi’s most-trusted confidante. The 68-year-old is, however, the arch rival of Amit Shah, another Modi protégé.

Also in the race is Nitin Patel, 58, the No. 2 in the Modi cabinet. The finance and health minister recently presided over a cabinet meeting when Modi was unwell — a first for any minister in Modi’s 12-year rule.

But if Modi decides on someone who has sound relations with big business, then he could promote energy minister Saurabh Patel, 55, an MBA from the US and the son-in-law of Ramnikbhai Ambani, the elder brother of late Dhirubhai Ambani.

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