Ahmedabad, Aug 4 (IANS) The BJP leadership is learnt to have almost zeroed in on Nitin Patel, the senior-most minister in the Anandiben Patel cabinet, to take over as Gujarat Chief Minister from her, though the names of other possible contenders kept on doing the rounds in political circles here on Thursday.
BJP President Amit Shah, who flew in to Ahmedabad on Thursday morning, held a marathon meeting with national secretary (organization) V. Satish and general secretary in-charge of Gujarat affairs Dinesh Sharma at his residence.
State leaders, including Nitin Patel, who holds the health portfolio and is the state government spokesperson, also participated at the high level meeting at Shah’s residence.
State BJP president Vijay Rupani, whose name was also doing the rounds, spent more time at the party headquarters where leaders were busy in hectic parleys.
Nitin Patel later presented himself before the media to represent the state government’s position on the 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections, which was rejected by Gujarat High Court earlier in the day.
Rupani, meanwhile, reiterated that a meeting of the party’s legislators would meet on Friday at ‘Kamalam’, the state BJP quarters, to decide on the next chief minister. Sources said the swearing-in is likely to take place on August 7.
It was Rupani who made the announcement of 10 per cent reservation on behalf of the government at the party headquarters in April, though both Nitin Patel and Anandiben Patel were also present. “On quota, Rupani should have been giving the government version, but it was Nitin Patel instead today,” said a senior party leader who did not want to be named.
Another senior leader told IANS: “Nitin Patel is the logical choice. He is the seniormost minister, a Patel and from Mehsana in North Gujarat, home district of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Choosing the seniormost minister would also neutralize any factional considerations.”
When Modi went to Delhi in 2014, Nitin Patel had offered to take charge as the chief minister but Anandiben Patel had pipped him to the post.
The party had made it clear that Amit Shah, who was considered the most ideal candidate to steer the party in Gujarat, would continue as the party chief, but his name still continued to be discussed here.
Later, sources said he would only chair the meeting of the legislators on Friday in the presence of Nitin Gadkari and Saroj Pandey.
After all the half a dozen names were discussed, Nitin Patel and Vijay Rupani had emerged as leading choices. Later, when Rupani was talking to reporters at the party office, Nitin Patel was keeping busy with Shah.