Gandhinagar : BJP leader Narendra Modi’s most trusted lieutenant is fast emerging as the frontrunner in the succession race for the chief minister’s post in Gujarat.
The Gujarat BJP, however, will play the cards close to its chest until the fate of the incumbent Chief Minister is decided on Friday.
Party spokesperson Vijay Rupani told the media at Gandhinagar that the decision in this regard will be taken by the parliamentary board after the election results are declared. Apparently, Modi does not want to be seen to be in a tearing hurry to relinquish his chief ministership.
What fuelled the speculation on Tuesday was a meeting of the party MLAs, which was chaired by Chief Minister Modi in Gandhinagar. While Rupani maintained that the meeting did not discuss the succession issue, sources in the party indicated that the process of selecting the successor is already on and revenue minister Anandiben Patel is the strongest contender for the position.
However, typical of ‘Modipolitik’, the water has been muddied by the likes of finance minister Nitin Patel, speaker Vaju Bala and industries minister Saurabh Patel, whose names are doing the rounds along with that of Anandiben as chief minister probables and observers are not ruling out the possibility of a dark horse finally emerging as the successor.
RSS nominee and BJP organizational secretary Bhikhu Dalsania and infrastructure-man Surendra Patel are two such possibilities and reliable sources maintain that RSS is keen to see Dalsania occupy the Chief Minister’s chair in Gujarat.
“The Sangh has lost its ground in a big way in Gujarat in the last ten years and it will definitely like to recoup in the state, where it had its strongest support base,” said a Sangh affiliate.
“However, it is only after the election results are declared that the scenario will be clear in Gujarat,” he added.