New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today nominated incumbent Vijay Rupani to lead its legislature party in Gujarat. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley told the media that incumbent Rupani was elected to take charge as the state’s chief minister for a second term.
The Rajkot-based leader was at the receiving end of criticism for failing to stem the heavy losses the saffron party faced in Saurashtra in the recently-concluded assembly polls.
Many in the saffron party thought that Rupani did not command a state-wide support and could barely match the popularity of former chief minister Narendra Modi or even Anandiben Patel, who resigned from the chief ministerial position in May, 2016.
Yet Rupani, who succeeded Patel in the previous term, was chosen again to head the party in the state.
According to sources in the party, his nomination for the chief ministerial position again reinforces the influence the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has on the saffron party.
In his not-very-long political career, Rupani has risen from being a dedicated RSS activist to becoming the mayor of Rajkot, the business hub of Saurashtra, before being chosen for the top job in 2016.
Rupani’s nomination as the chief minister in 2016 had surprised many political observers as Nitin Patel, an influential BJP leader in north Gujarat, was seen as the frontrunner for the post. However, it is believed that the RSS had objected to Patel’s candidature strongly at that time and advanced Rupani’s name for the chief minister’s position.
Although the saffron party ended up with its worst-ever electoral performance since 1985 under Rupani’s leadership, his re-election as the party head underscores that he remains a favourite with the Sangh parivar.
Deputy chief minister Nitin Patel will continue to be the second in command. He was declared the deputy leader of the legislature party by Jaitley, the central observer appointed by the BJP leadership for the election.
The BJP had registered a sixth straight assembly poll win in the key western state on December 18, winning 99 seats in the 182-member House.
Though the Congress and allies performed its best in many years, winning 80 seats, it could not unseat the BJP.
With inputs from PTI