Bhupendra Patel: How first-time MLA rose up political ranks to helm Gujarat
First-time legislator Bhupendra Patel was on Sunday named the next chief minister of Gujarat, a day after the unexpected resignation of Vijay Rupani. Popularly known as Bhupendrabhai Patel, the 59-year-old is believed to be a close confidante of Union home minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel.
The proposal to elect Patel as the legislative party leader was moved by CM Vijay Rupani, whose resignation just 15 months ahead of the state assembly elections, has surprised many. Most of the 112 MLAs of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 182-member Assembly were present at Sunday’s legislative party meeting.
Patel has never held a ministerial post before.
The Patidar leader, who holds a diploma in civil engineering, contested his maiden assembly election in 2017 and won the Ghatlodia constituency in Ahmedabad by over 117,000 votes -- the highest victory margin in the state during that election. Ghatlodia is part of the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat represented by Shah.
“Patel is very soft-spoken, gentle and gels with everyone,” said a BJP functionary, who did not want to be named. But some in the party have apprehensions about his governance abilities, citing a lack of administrative experience.
In the past, Patel served as the chairman of Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) between 2015 and 2017. Before that, he was also the standing committee chairman of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), the largest urban local body in Gujarat, between 2010 and 2015. People close to him know Patel as someone well-connected to the grassroots.
Before contesting the assembly election, he was active in local politics and became a member of Memnagar Municipality in Ahmedabad district, serving as its president twice. Patel is also a trustee of the Sardardham Vishwa Patidar Kendra, an organisation dedicated to the socio-economic development of the Patidar community.
As per the affidavit filed in the last assembly polls, Patel has no criminal case pending against him.
Amid allegations and speculations that Bhupendra Patel will be a “remote-controlled” CM, Amit Shah expressed confidence in his leadership. “I believe that under the guidance of Narendra Modi, the state’s sustainable development will keep up its momentum,” Amit Shah said in a Twitter post.
“He represents the builder lobby, which is a big source of funding for the BJP. He is also a consensus candidate of Amit Shah and Anandiben groups. And then was chairman of AUDA,” says chief Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.
Names of Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya and deputy chief minister Nitin Patel were also doing the rounds as the argument was that the BJP might want to replace soft-spoken Vijay Rupani with a strong, more mainstream politician. Patel’s name was not among the front runners. But in the meeting, his name was unanimously accepted while he was sitting in the last row.
Experts termed Patel as someone who “knows how to get things done”.
“Bhupendra has a clean slate and has a spotless reputation. His quality is that he is a soft-spoken person and knows how to get things done,” said political analyst Vishnu Pandya.
With agency inputs