Ahead of the Gujarat Legislature Party meeting on Sunday to elect Vijay Rupani's successor as chief minister, Deputy CM Nitin Patel said the leader "will have to be popular, strong, experienced, and the one who is known and acceptable to all". Patel, whose name is doing the rounds for the top post in the state, told reporters in Gandhinagar that he will not speak about any individual's name at this stage and the BJP's central leadership will decide on the new chief minister. Rupani (65) on Saturday resigned from the chief minister's post, his sudden announcement coming over a year before the state goes to polls.
It is not clear what prompted the development in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, where elections to the 182-member Assembly are due in December next year. Asked who is capable of being the new chief minister of Gujarat, Patel on Sunday said the leader "will have to be popular, strong, experienced, and the one who is known and acceptable to all".
"I am not here to express my personal opinion on the possible name. The exercise to elect the next chief minister is not just a work to fill in a vacancy. Gujarat should get a successful leadership so that the state can develop, keeping all together," the deputy CM told reporters outside his residence in Gandhinagar. He said two observers -- (Union ministers) Narendra Singh Tomar and Prahlad Joshi -- appointed by the BJP's parliamentary board reached Gujarat on Sunday to hold meetings with the party MLAs and other senior state leaders. They began meetings with state BJP president CR Paatil and others, Patel said.
Patel also said that senior party leaders, including national general secretary B L Santhosh, Union minister and Gujarat in-charge Bhupender Yadav, joint in-charge Sudhir Gupta, among others, reached the state on Saturday and were gathering opinions on the possible name of the next CM of the state. The two observers (Tomar and Joshi) will take the opinions of the MLAs in the meeting at 3 pm on Sunday, and convey the same to the party's parliamentary board, he said.
"I believe that all the processes will be completed today and the national leadership will decide on the name of the new chief minister, as per the opinions gathered from the MLAs and senior Gujarat BJP leaders," Patel said. He said the BJP performed "very well" in the local bodies elections held earlier this year in Gujarat, and the party and the next leadership will take decisions and work together to ensure the state develops and wins the state Assembly polls due in December 2022.