Gandhinagar : The BJP Thursday inducted 24 members, including 21 who debuted as ministers, into the four-day-old Bhupendra Patel-led ministry, discarding all ministers in the previous Vijay Rupani-led regime in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, a year ahead of the Assembly polls.
The new ministry doesn’t have the post of deputy chief minister, held by Nitin Patel in the Rupani-led ministry.
While allocating portfolios to the newly-inducted ministers, Patel kept many departments, including Home, with himself. Kanubhai Desai is the new Finance Minister.
The CM will also hold the charge of General Administration Department, Information, Industries, Mines and Minerals, Capital Projects, Urban Development, Urban Housing and Narmada and Ports departments.
Political observers say the BJP expects to make a significant impact ahead of the 2022 state polls with this new-look ministry. The party is preparing to face the voters with a clean slate, they added.
With the fresh inductions, which include two women, the strength of the ministry led by Patel, a first-term MLA and minister, has gone up to 25.
Modi congratulated the new ministers.
“Congratulations to all Party colleagues who have taken oath as Ministers in the Gujarat Government. These are outstanding Karyakartas who have devoted their lives to public service and spreading our Party’s development agenda. Best wishes for a fruitful tenure ahead,” Modi tweeted.
Governor Acharya Devvrat administered the oath to 10 cabinet ministers and 14 ministers of state, including five ministers of state with independent charge.
Those sworn in at the 1.30 pm Raj Bhavan ceremony include former Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi and former state BJP president Jitubhai Vaghani.
The ministry formation exercise shows that the party has tried to balance caste and regional representation.
After picking Patel, a Patidar community leader as the CM, the BJP has given berth to six Patidars and OBCs each, four from scheduled tribes, three from scheduled castes, two each from among Brahmins and Kshatriyas and one member from the Jain community.
Like the CM, who is considered close to Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, the new cabinet minister Rishikesh Patel and minister of state with independent charge Jagdish Panchal, are also considered close to the former Gujarat CM.
Cabinet ministers Rajendra Trivedi and Kiritsinh Rana are old-timers and considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while minister of state Harsh Sanghvi is known to be close to state BJP president C R Paatil.
Bhupendra Patel chaired the first meeting of the Council of Ministers, soon after the swearing-in ceremony.
A party source said there is widespread dissatisfaction over the dropping of senior ministers, who held key posts in the Rupani ministry.
“The ceremony was to be held on Wednesday but was postponed as some senior ministers were unhappy over being dropped,” the source said. Banners and hoardings put up at Raj Bhavan for Wednesday’s ceremony had to be removed, he pointed out.
When reporters asked Nitin Patel about reports of rumblings in the BJP, he sounded philosophical.
“People come and go from the posts. Their supporters feel left out. But now it is not my responsibility. The party leadership has to look after it,” Patel said. “I want to congratulate the ministers, they will lead the party in the next election,” he added.
Bhupendra Patel (59), who was sworn in as the 17th chief minister of the state on Monday, was present at the Raj Bhavan ceremony, along with Rupani, whose sudden resignation from the post on Saturday led to the formation of the new ministry.
Rajendra Trivedi, Jitubhai Vaghani, Rishikesh Patel, Purnesh Modi, Raghavji Patel, Kanubhai Desai, Kiritsinh Rana, Naresh Patel, Pradip Parmar and Arjunsinh Chauhan were sworn in as cabinet ministers.