‘Dada’ Bhupendra Patel is ‘Unanimous’ Pick for Gujarat Chief Minister
Newly elected Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel shows the victory sign in the presence of former Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, at BJP headquarters in Kamalam, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, on Sept. 12. (ANI photo)
GANDHINAGAR, Gujarat – Fondly addressed as ‘Dada’ by his supporters, Bhupendrabhai Rajnikanthbhai Patel is set to become the 17th chief minister of Gujarat, replacing Vijay Rupani who stepped down from the top post abruptly.
The announcement of the 59-year-old BJP leader’s name as the chief minister-elect at a legislative party meeting of the BJP on Sept.12 came as a surprise for many as the low-profile MLA was not seen to be among the top contenders for the post. However, the BJP said the selection of Patel, a man known for his gentle personality and said to be a protege of former chief minister Anandiben Patel, was a unanimous decision by all leaders present in the party’s legislative meeting.
Till early Sept. 12 morning, Patel was just another MLA attending small party events in his constituency, where he was planting saplings and planning the next organizational programs. According to his member page in the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha, Patel listed his hobbies as spiritual activities and enjoying sports like cricket and badminton.
Born in Ahmedabad, Patel is a first-time MLA from the Ghatlodia seat, a post previously held by Anandiben Patel, who is currently serving as the governor of Uttar Pradesh with an additional charge of Madhya Pradesh.
He won his maiden seat by a margin of 117,000 votes in 2017, the largest margin in that poll, defeating Congress candidate Shashikant Patel. He grabbed more than 72 percent of the vote share in the Ghatlodia constituency during the 2017 assembly polls.
Patel is, however, not a new face in politics and has served as the Ahmedabad municipal councilor.
Patel, who holds a diploma in civil engineering, also served as the chairman of the Standing Committee of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority.
With Assembly polls in the state scheduled to be held in 2022, the BJP went with Patel, a Patidar face for the chief minister. He is also a trustee of Patidar organizations Sardar Dham and Vishwa Umiya Foundation.
The Patidars are a dominant group in Gujarat with sizeable control over the electoral votes. The community also dominates the political economy with a stronghold over education, realty and cooperative sectors.
The choice of a Patel name is important for the BJP because besides being a Patidar, he is also a Kadva Patel. He will be the first chief minister in Gujarat from the Kadva Patel community, which forms nearly 12.4 percent of the state’s population. Till now all the other “Patel” chief ministers of Gujarat were from the Leuva Patel community.