MUMBAI: The 59-year-old Bhupendra Rajnikant Patel, the first Ahmedabadi chief minister of Gujarat, is a first-time MLA, first-time minister and first Kadva Patel to take the top seat. The selection surprised everyone, including Patel and his family as well.
When the news broke, Patel was seated in the fourth row of the BJP legislature party meeting. His family got the news from the media. The entire process of sacking Vijay Rupani and promoting Patel was full of surprises and shocking elements.
Devanshi Patel, daughter-in-law of Gujarat’s new chief minister, said their Diwali has come early. “It’s a complete surprise for our family,” she said. Patel is known as Dada, which means elder brother, among his relatives and friends. He is also a diehard devotee of Bhagwan Dada — a spiritual leader in Gujarat. Soon after his elevation to the top post, Patel visited the temple of Bhagwan Dada on Sunday evening.
A civil engineer by qualification and builder by profession, Patel started his political career as a corporator in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in 2008. He was vice-chairman of the School Board of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation from 2008-10 and standing committee chairman from 2010-15.
He was chairman of Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority from 2015-17. After his corporation tenure, in the 2017 state polls, Patel surprisingly got a BJP ticket. Former CM Anandiben Patel was planning to field her daughter in her place from the Ghatlodia constituency, but BJP surprisingly chose Patel at the 11th hour. He won by a record margin of more than one lakh votes. This constituency is dominated by the Patidar community.
Patel is known as a soft-spoken, mild-natured and down to earth person. There are no corruption charges against him. His elections affidavit also has no mention of any criminal cases against him. Patel has Rs 5.19 crore in assets while Rs 69 crore in liabilities. The new chief minister owns a modest Hundai I 20 car, while his spouse owns a Honda Active two-wheeler. Urban face of the BJP, he will now be the main face of the party for the 2022 Assembly polls.
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“Bhupendra Patel has no experience as a minister, but this clean image is the plus point. It will be difficult for political rivals to attack and criticise him. BJP wanted to come out from the horror of 2017, when it failed to touch three digits due to the Patidar agitations. Now, a Patidar is the CM. It will be difficult for AAP and Congress to counter BJP,” said a senior Gujarat journalist.
Soft-spoken civil engineer
Known as a soft-spoken person, Patel is a civil engineer by qualifiction and builder by profession. In the 2017 Assembly polls, he won by a record margin of over 1 lakh votes from Ghatlodia constituency. Called Dada in close circles, Patel is also a devotee of Bhagwan Dada, a spiritual leader from Gujarat. Soon after becoming the chief minister, he visited a temple of Bhagwan Dada