BJP names Saurashtra Patidar leader as its Gujarat president
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday appointed Jitu Vaghani, an MLA from Bhavnagar West constituency and a Patidar, as the new president of its Gujarat unit.india Updated: Aug 11, 2016 09:54 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday appointed Jitu Vaghani, an MLA from Bhavnagar West constituency and a Patidar, as the new president of its Gujarat unit.
The 46-year-old will lead the BJP to the crucial 2017 assembly elections as it struggles to retain its key vote banks and fight anti-incumbency. His appointment comes after his predecessor Vijay Rupani was made the chief minister following the resignation of beleaguered Anandiben Patel amid Patidar and Dalit agitations.
With the post of deputy CM going to Nitin Patel, a Kadva Patel leader from north Gujarat, the BJP now has now a Leuva Patel leader from Saurashtra in Vaghani.
Both north Gujarat and Saurashtra have a significant population of politically-influential Patidars who are up in the arms against the BJP government over OBC status. The Patidars or Patels are also a staunch supporter of the BJP for three decades now.
Like CM Rupani, two-term MLA Waghani also has his political roots in the RSS. He has been a swayamsevak since he was in school and joined the BJP’s student wing ABVP during college. He holds a law degree.
With eight ministers from the Anandiben government being dropped and four new inducted, the BJP will go to the 2017 elections with a revamped team under Vaghani.
The Patidars’ agitation over reservation and the recent outrage over the thrashing of four Dalits for skinning a dead cow at Una in Gir Somnath district put the BJP on a mat. The agitation led by Hardik Patel threatened to weaken the BJP’s sway in rural pockets of Gujarat.
The Patels account for about a sixth of the state’s population, and when added to the Dalits — who account for about a tenth — can swing the assembly elections due early 2017.