No ministers from ex-CM Rupani’s term part of Gujarat cabinet
Gandhinagar: Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel inducted 24 ministers, of which 21 were new faces, on Thursday, dropping all ministers from the previous Vijay Rupani-led administration, three days after taking charge in a surprise change of guard.
At a low-key ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar, governor Acharya Devvrat administered oath to 24 ministers -- 10 cabinet members and 14 ministers of state. Of this, three legislators held portfolios in previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments, and the rest are first-time ministers.
“Congratulations to all p[arty colleagues who have taken oath as ministers in the Gujarat government,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Patel, who is a first-time MLA, retained key portfolios and didn’t name a deputy. Rupani’s deputy, Nitin Patel, was also dropped.
“It is unprecedented in the country’s history that the entire Cabinet was dropped, but if the party leadership has decided they will have their logic,” Nitin Patel told reporters after the ceremony.
The 59-year-old chief minister, a lawmaker from Ahmedabad hailing from the influential Patidar community, was named as the new chief minister on Monday after Rupani resigned a little over a year before assemble elections are to be held.
This was the fourth chief minister changed by the BJP this year, and experts blamed Rupani’s handling of the pandemic and the lack of a strong base for his resignation.
Patel took oath on Sunday but no other ministers were named. A senior BJP leader said on condition of anonymity that Patel faced problems while implementing the no-repeat theory envisaged by Prime Minister Modi and home minister Amit Shah for Gujarat. On Wednesday, the swearing-in ceremony had to be postponed after protests and internal dissent.
The new CM inducted legislators from all the regions and key castes, and balanced young leaders with experienced MLAs. There are three women on the list.
Equal representation has been given to central and south Gujarat -- two regions that earlier got overshadowed by Saurashtra and North Gujarat, which dominate the state’s politics.
Saurashtra and Kutch, which send the maximum 54 MLAs got seven ministers; south Gujarat, represented by state BJP president CR Paatil and comprising 20 seats, also got seven.
Patel kept crucial departments, including home, with himself. He will also oversee the general administration department, information, industries, mines and minerals, capital projects, urban development, urban housing and Narmada and ports departments.
Harsh Sanghvi, the 36-year-old lawmaker from Majura constituency, was named minister of state for home. Kanu Desai, the 70-year-old MLA from Pardi, was given the finance portfolio.
Purnesh Modi from Surat West will handle road transport and building, apart from tourism and pilgrimage development. Former state BJP president, Jitubhai Vaghani, is the new education minister, and Rishikesh Patel will handle health and water resources. Raghavji Patel, who was a minister in the Anandiben Patel cabinet, will handle agriculture and animal husbandry.
The council comprises six ministers from the Patidar community and other backward classes each, four from the scheduled tribes, three from the scheduled castes, two each from the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas, and one from the Jain community.
Political expert Ghanshyam Shah said, “Changing faces irrespective of experience and competence is Narendra Modi’s old style. He started this in 2007 with a message that it is he who counts at the end of the day.”
Political analyst Vidyut Joshi said the BJP was trying to create a balancing act by strengthening central and south Gujarat, “Charismatic personalities disrupt organisational structures and system. This is what Modi has done. The new batch of ministers are young for sure but there is no guarantee of their competence vis-a-vis those who have gone out,” he added.