NEW DELHI: Paving the way for choosing a new chief minister in Gujarat, the BJP’s highest decision making body has authorised party chief Amit Shah to pick a successor to Anandiben Patel, who submitted her resignation to governor on Wednesday.
Shah will travel to Ahmedabad, along with two observers - minister Nitin Gadkari and party general secretary Saroj Pandey — to hold consultations with the MLAs and choose a leader. Though the BJP did not name a chief minister, it ruled out Shah as the chief minister face, saying he was needed in national politics. The new chief minister will be from among the MLAs.The BJP Parliamentary Board met here at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official residence to decide on the issue of the Gujarat chief minister. The board authorised Shah to elect the new leader, thus making it clear no lobbying would be allowed.
State party chief Vijay Rupani and minister Nitinbhai Patel are the front-runners for the post, unless Modi-Shah has another dark horse in mind, sources said. Interestingly, though a strong contender, Rupani, considered close to Shah, chose to rule himself out saying he would like to work for the party. Nitinbhai had worked with Modi in the past and is trusted by the PM. After the Patel agitation, the BJP may pick a Patel again to placate the dominant community in the state, a factor said to be working in Nitinbhai’s favour. Other names doing the rounds include Assembly Speaker Ganpat Vasava.
Former party president Venkaiah Naidu, also a member of the board, scotched all speculation regarding Shah as chief minister. He said the board did not discuss the names of any candidate. Ruling out the candidature of Shah, also an MLA, Naidu said the party needs him to lead it at the national level. “Such a question does not arise. He is the party president and going to remain party president. The party needs his leadership at the national level. There is no such discussion at all,” he said when asked about reports that Shah was also in contention. Shah has taken the party to “great heights” and led it to many successes, he added. Shah had in the past refused to return to Gujarat saying he has a greater and much powerful role in Delhi.
Naidu added that Shah was also an MLA and so would be present at the Legislature Party meeting. “He will hold consultations following which the successor will be decided,” he said.The actual election of a new leader may happen either on Thursday or Friday.