‘Will bring new energy’: Bhupendra Patel sworn in as Gujarat CM
First-term MLA Bhupendra Patel was on Monday sworn in as the 17th chief minister of Gujarat by governor Acharya Devvrat at a simple ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Ahmedabad.
The 59-year-old was unanimously elected BJP legislature party leader on Sunday, a day after former chief minister Vijay Rupani and his cabinet surprised many with their resignations just 15 months before the assembly elections in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state. The proposal to elect Patel as the legislature party leader was moved by Rupani.
Union home minister Amit Shah, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant,Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, Rupani and former deputy chief minister Nitin Patel were among those present at the event.
As decided by the BJP, only Patel was administered the oath of office on Monday. The council of ministers are likely to be sworn in during the next few days after their names are finalised, according to people familiar with the developments.
Extending his wishes to the new chief minister, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Congratulations to Bhupendra Bhai on taking oath as CM of Gujarat. I have known him for years and have seen his exemplary work, be it in the BJP Organisation or civic administration and community service. He will certainly enrich Gujarat’s growth trajectory.”
Responding to this, Patel said: “I will always work for giving new energy and momentum to the sustainable development journey of the state and for the welfare of the people.”
Devvrat and Shah congratulated Patel after the ceremony. Shah was the first to congratulate Patel after he took the oath.
“My wishes to Bhupendra Patel for taking oath as Gujarat chief minister. I believe under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he will take Gujarat’s development journey to new heights by working with full devotion and dedication for the welfare of the poor, farmers and underprivileged sections of the state,” Shah tweeted.
BJP president JP Nadda congratulated Patel for taking the chief minister’s chair. He also lauded Rupani for making every effort for the “development of the state and service of the people” in the previous five years.
“I have full confidence that under the guidance and leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the pace of Gujarat’s journey of sustainable development will accelerate,” his tweet in Hindi read.
Rupani also “conveyed congratulations” to his successor Patel, according to news agency ANI. He said that he has “full faith” in the BJP and the welfare of the state moving forward under Patel’s leadership. “Gujarat will become a role model for all states,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Hours after the ceremony, Patel held a high-level meeting with top officials to review the flood-like situation in some parts of Saurashtra region and instructed the authorities to airlift stranded people in rain-hit Jamnagar district.
Incessant rains battered parts of Saurashtra region on Monday, leaving three people dead in Rajkot and Jamnagar as rivers overflowed and low-lying areas got flooded. The situation also prompted authorities to issue alerts and deploy National Disaster Response Force and state disaster response force for evacuation and relief.
Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, Patel instructed Jamnagar district authorities to make necessary arrangements to airlift around 35 stranded persons of three villages, which were inundated and cut off from other parts of the district due to incessant rain on Sunday.
According to Jamnagar district’s disaster management wing, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been requested to airlift people stranded in some of the villages of Kalavad and Jamnagar talukas.
The newly-sworn chief minister is the fifth politician from the Patidar community to occupy the top post since the state’s formation in1960, indicating the clout wielded by the influential social group. The state has had five Patel chief ministers out of total 17 since the state was formed 61 years ago.
Patel’s elevation is being seen as an attempt by the BJP to woo the Patidars ahead of the 2022 polls and retain its grip on Gujarat, which has been under saffron rule for more than two decades.
The Patidars are a dominant caste in Gujarat with a sizeable control over the electoral votes and dominate the political economy with a stronghold over education, realty and cooperative sectors. They constitute around 15 per cent of the state’s population.
In the 2017 Assembly elections, BJP won 99 of the 182 seats and Congress got 77.
The chief minister is considered to be close to former Gujarat chief minister and current Uttar Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel who quit the post in 2016 following the statewide Patidar quota agitation which had turned violent.