Vijay Rupani takes oath as Gujarat CM, goes for leaner cabinet

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Ahmedabad: Vijay Rupani was sworn in on Tuesday for a second term as chief minister of Gujarat in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah.

Chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and union ministers were also in attendance at the new secretariat complex in Gandhinagar to witness Rupani’s swearing-in as the 16th chief minister of Gujarat.

Governor Om Prakash Kohli administered the oath of office and secrecy to 20 ministers, including Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel. Nine were sworn in as cabinet ministers and 10 as ministers of state.

With 99 members of the legislative assembly (MLAs), the BJP has a clear majority in the 182-member assembly although it won 16 seats less than its 2012 tally of 115 in recently concluded Gujarat elections.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and former Gujarat chief ministers Keshubhai Patel, Anandiben Patel and Shankersinh Vaghela were also present at the ceremony.

Compared to his earlier stint, when he took over as chief minister from Anandiben Patel in 2016, Rupani has gone for a leaner cabinet this time around. In 2016, there were 23 ministers, of which as many as nine were from the Patidar community. This time around, there are six ministers from the Patidar community.

Members of the powerful and dominant community have been agitating against the BJP-led state government for over two years now, demanding reservations in government jobs and education. As a result, the BJP lost many of its seats to the Congress in the Patidar-dominated Saurashtra region.

Deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, a Kadva Patel leader, won from Mehsana despite massive opposition from the Patel community in his constituency. He has been elected as a legislator for the sixth time.

Among other cabinet ministers sworn in on Friday are R.C. Faldu, a Leuva Patel leader who has twice been the state BJP president; and Kaushik Patel, who won from Naranpura constituency in Ahmedabad and was a cabinet minister in the Keshubhai Patel and Narendra Modi-led state governments.

Another powerful leader who has been appointed as a cabinet minister is Saurabh Patel. He was dropped by Rupani last year. Saurabh Patel, who has held several important portfolios like energy and finance in previous Gujarat governments, is a five-time legislator. He has made a comeback to the government, having won from the Botad constituency in Saurashtra.

Rajput leader Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, who is among the top BJP leaders in the state, was also sworn in as a cabinet minister. Dilip Thakor, an other backward classes (OBC) leader from Chanasma in north Gujarat and Ishwar Parmar, a Dalit, also made it to the list of cabinet ministers.

Among the ministers of state is Pradipsinh Jadeja, a four-time legislator who has been a minister in the last three governments. Considered close to Amit Shah, Jadeja is a prominent Kshatriya-Darbar community leader who won with a massive majority from Vatva in Ahmedabad.

A well-known OBC leader from the Chaudhary community, Parbat Patel, who has been a minister in the Narendra Modi and Anandiben Patel governments, was also sworn in as a minister of state after his win from Tharad constituency in Banaskantha district of north Gujarat for the fifth time.

Ramanlal Patkar, a tribal leader and five-time legislator from Umargaon in south Gujarat, made his debut as minister. Bhavnagar East MLA Vibhavari Dave is the lone woman in the new ministry.