In a firm message to one and all in his party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi enforced upon new Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel to drop all ministers in the outgoing ministry, even as 24 new faces were sworn in as ministers on Thursday.
Patel’s ministry is in keeping with Modi’s no-repeat formula that he started as the chief minister in 2007 when he first changed all the councillors in all the municipal corporations in Gujarat.
He said then and subsequently as recently as in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections that every vote polled goes in his account. There is this stamp even in the new ministry while a new Chief Minister, allegedly only in name, has taken charge in the model state of Gujarat.
All sulking ministers, including deputy chief minister Nitin Patel who even had a meeting with the party’s first rebel and State-level Shankersinh Vaghela two days ago, have been dropped. Vaghela is a spent force and so is Nitin Patel, by now. At best, sources claim, he may join the NCP.
Except three, all other 21 legislators who were sworn in are first-time ministers. Bhupendra Patel reportedly had a tough time implementing the no-repeat theory but as is known in the BJP at least in Gujarat that most dissenting voices are reduced to murmurs, before they die out.
It did take three days for Bhupendra Patel to decide on the new ministry, but it was only a matter of time.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who could not become the CM when Vijay Rupani was brought in as a surprise candidate just like Bhupendra Patel, told reporters that, “It is unprecedented in the country’s history that the entire Cabinet was dropped, but if the party leadership has decided they will have their logic.” Nitin Patel, who was seen breaking down before TV channels 24 hours ago, was all smiles.
So, the new chief minister has inducted legislators from all the regions and key castes and they are a combination of youth and seniors. There are three women in the list. State Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi, who resigned earlier in the day, has been given revenue portfolio.
The remarkable part in the entire exercise -- and the most significant -- is that equal representation has been given to South Gujarat and central Gujarat, including Ahmedabad city, as against the Saurashtra and North Gujarat regions which have always called the shots in the State’s politics.
If Saurashtra and Kutch, which send the maximum 54 MLAs, have got seven ministers, the South Gujarat region represented by State BJP president CR Paatil has got as many ministers. The Vijay Rupani ministry had four ministers from the region.
What is more, Harsh Sanghvi, 36, from Majura constituency, Surat, and believed to be close to Paatil has got Minister of State for Home, while Kanu Desai, 70, from Pardi in Valsad district has been given Finance portfolio. Purnesh Modi from Surat West has also found a berth.
It is clear that Modi and Amit Shah are trying to forge a balance to ensure that South and Central Gujarat regions offset whatever the losses that may occur from the rest of the State from these regions.
While a Patidar has been made a chief minister, he is from Ahmedabad city (central Gujarat), there is a good representation of the cities from central and South in the ministry. There are three ministers, including the chief minister, from Ahmedabad city, there are two each from Surat and Vadodara cities.
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