GANDHINAGAR, Sept 16:
In a major overhaul ahead of next year’s Gujarat Assembly elections, the BJP on Thursday inducted 24 ministers, including 21 who have become ministers for the first time, into the Bhupendra Patel-led ministry.
With the fresh inductions, which include two women, the strength of the ministry led by Patel, a first-term MLA and minister, has gone up to 25. No minister from the earlier Vijay Rupani-led ministry was inducted.
Governor Acharya Devvrat administered the oath to 10 cabinet ministers and 14 ministers of state, including five ministers of state with independent charge. Political observers say the BJP expects to make an impact ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls with this new-look ministry.
The party expects to go into the elections with a clean slate, they added. Those sworn in at the 1.30 pm Raj Bhavan ceremony include former Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi and former state BJP president Jitu Vaghani.
The ministry formation exercise shows that the party has tried to balance caste and regional representation. After picking Patel, a Patidar community leader as the CM, the BJP has given berth to six Patidars and OBCs each, four from scheduled tribes, three from scheduled castes, two each from among Brahmins and Kshatriyas and one member from the Jain community.
Like the CM, who is considered close to Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, the new cabinet minister Rishikesh Patel and minister of state with independent charge Jagdish Panchal, are also considered close to the former Gujarat CM.
Cabinet ministers Rajendra Trivedi and Kiritsinh Rana are old-timers and considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while minister of state Harsh Sanghvi is known to be close to state BJP president C R Paatil.
Bhupendra Patel (59), who was sworn in as the 17th chief minister of the state on Monday, was present at the Raj Bhavan ceremony, along with Rupani, whose sudden resignation from the post on Saturday led to the formation of the new ministry.
Rajendra Trivedi, Jitu Vaghani, Rushikesh Patel, Purnesh Modi, Raghavji Patel, Kanubhai Desai, Kiritsinh Rana, Naresh Patel, Pradip Parmar and Arjunsinh Chauhan were sworn in as cabinet ministers. Trivedi, Rana and Raghavji Patel have been ministers earlier. Harsh Sanghvi, Jagdish Panchal, Brijesh Merja, Jitu Choudhary and Manisha Vakil took the oath as ministers of state with independent charge. The nine other ministers of state are Mukesh Patel, Nimisha Suthar, Arvind Raiyani, Kuber Dindor, Kirtisinh Vaghela, Gajendrasinh Parmar, R C Makwana, Vinod Moradia and Deva Malam.
Ahead of the swearing-in, there were speculations that senior ministers in the Rupani ministry, like former deputy CM Nitin Patel, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Kaushik Patel, Pradeepsinh Jadeja, and R C Faldu may not be included. The BJP took the “no-repeat” formula a step further by not inducting any member of the Rupani ministry.
Bhupendra Patel’s elevation – he is the first from the Patidar sub-group to be a chief minister – is key to BJP’s plans to woo the Kadva Patidar community, which some political observers feel, has drifted away from the party.
Making him the CM is being seen as an attempt by the BJP to woo the Patidars ahead of the 2022 polls and retain the grip on Gujarat, which is under its rule for over two decades. Before Bhupendra Patel, Gujarat saw Anandiben Patel, Keshubhai Patel, Babubhai Patel and Chimanbhai Patel as chief ministers from the Patidar or Patel community.
There was jubilation among supporters of the new ministers as they took the oath. They shouted slogans when their leaders rose to take the oath. (PTI)
GANDHINAGAR, Sept 16: