From being the chairman of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority to being chosen in 2017 to contest his first election and now being the surprise choice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the next Chief Minister of Gujarat, 59-year-old Bhupendra Patel is as low-profile a politician as one can be.
Till early this morning, Patel had just 14,000-odd followers on Twitter and was hardly in contention for the top chair, if one went by the speculation in the media. Earlier today, he was planting a sapling in his constituency with a handful of supporters and then holding a small organisational meeting before he is said to have learnt that he was to be the choice as the next CM.
He even caught no one’s attention when he reached the BJP MLAs meeting at 3pm, sat towards the end of the hall and his name was then announced as the unanimous choice as the new CM.
First Kadva Patel to become Gujarat CM
But Patel’s choice makes more political sense. Besides being a Patidar, the community BJP wants to be by its side in the next elections, Patel is also a Kadva Patel, which forms nearly 12.4% of Gujarat’s population. The new CM pick is, in fact, the first Kadva Patel to become the CM of the state.
This community is dominant in North Gujarat and Saurashtra, and opens a new political narrative for the BJP in the next polls. Before him, the Patel CMs of Gujarat were all Leuva Patels. Bhupendra Patel also has a good hold over various Patidar associations.
In becoming the CM, Bhupendra Patel has clearly superseded a host of leaders in the state, effectively sealing the future of the likes of Deputy CM Nitin Patel, who saw himself as the biggest Patidar face in the state.
Bhupendra Patel, took over her assembly seat of Ghatlodia from his mentor Anandiben Patel in the assembly election in 2017 and by a huge margin — polling 72% of the total votes. He thanked Prime Minister Modi, BJP national president JP Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for reposing faith in him and also thanked Anandiben Patel for supporting him in the past. The civil engineer, hence, already seems to have struck a fine balance.