Ahmedabad, Sep 12 (PTI) Set to take oath as Gujarat chief minister in less than 24 hours, Bhupendra Patel has become the proverbial dark horse taking centre stage in state politics. After CM Vijay Rupani's sudden resignation Saturday, the names of some leaders from the Patidar community were doing the rounds as his replacement but the name of first-term MLA Bhupendra Patel (59) was nowhere in the reckoning.
Some political observers mentioned that BJP has lately been choosing a low-profile leader as the CM. They said the party wants to develop a new set of leadership in the states and cited the choice of Pushkar Singh Dhami as Uttarakhand CM as a case in point. Unanimously elected the state BJP legislature party leader on Sunday, Patel is known as a soft-spoken person who made his way up in the state politics from the municipality level.
Expected to lead the BJP into the 2022 Assembly polls, Patel contested his maiden Assembly election from Ghatlodia constituency in Ahmedabad in 2017 and won it by a margin of over 1.17 lakh votes, a record during that election. Fondly called 'Dada' by many (Rupani is called Bhai'), Patel is considered close to former Gujarat chief minister and current Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel. His Assembly constituency is part of the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat represented by Union minister Amit Shah. Patel was the chairman of Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority between 2015 and 2017. He was also the standing committee chairman of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, the largest urban local body in Gujarat, between 2010 and 2015. Before contesting the Assembly election, he was active in local politics and was a member of the Memnagar Municipality in Ahmedabad district, serving as its president twice.
The elevation as CM-designate came as a surprise for him, Patel told reporters in Gandhinagar when asked if the party had informed him that he would be the next chief minister. Patel is also a trustee of Sardardham Vishwa Patidar Kendra, an organisation dedicated to the socio-economic development of the Patidar community.
Married to Hetalben, a homemaker, Patel was born in Ahmedabad and has lived and worked in the city, and also travelled to many parts of the world. Patel, who holds a diploma in civil engineering, is fond of spiritual activities and likes cricket and badminton, an aide says. Ahead of the meeting of BJP MLAs at the party headquarters Kamalam in Gandhinagar, where he was elected as the legislature party leader, Patel was on Sunday morning seen planting trees in his Assembly constituency