The decision was taken at a meeting of the BJP legislature party chaired by national party president Amit Shah with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and MP Saroj Pandey as observers from the central leadership.
Anandiben Patel, the first woman Chief Minister of Gujarat, had announced her resignation in a surprise Facebook post on Monday.
The suave soft-spoken Vijay Rupani, a Jain-Baniya, is presently the party’s Gujarat unit president, while Health Minister and State Government spokesperson Nitin Patel is a grassroots rustic Patel leader.
Both are 60 years of age, but Patel is way senior to Rupani in political experience and running the government. Rupani was also a cabinet minister, besides being the party chief.
The announcement of Rupani’s name has come as a surprise since Nitin Patel was being presumed the final choice and had even started giving veiled interviews to local Gujarati news channels.
By 4.45 p.m., local newspaper offices had started receiving email and fax with Nitin Patel’s bio-data. Not only this, TV channels had even got Patel’s wife on camera.
Indications of last-minute change came when the meeting, that was largely meant to formally announce the new name in front of all the legislators at 4 p.m., got delayed by nearly two hours.
Anandiben Patel had claimed she was putting in her papers to honour the unwritten code among BJP leaders to quit public posts at 75.