Ahmedabad: Vijay Rupani of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday took charge as the 16th chief minister of Gujarat, in the backdrop of unrest among the state’s Patidar and Dalit communities and the sudden exit of his predecessor Anandiben Patel.
Rupani took the oath of office at Mahatma Mandir, a convention and exhibition centre in Gandhinagar, in the presence of senior party leaders, including former home minister L.K. Advani, finance minister Arun Jaitely, party president Amit Shah and BJP chief ministers of Maharashtra, Haryana, Goa and Chhattisgarh.
Nitin Patel was sworn in as deputy chief minister along with 23 others who joined the state cabinet. Earlier on Saturday, Rupani resigned as Gujarat BJP president following his elevation to the top job.
Rupani’s government faces the task of steering the BJP to victory in the 2017 assembly election, a task complicated by the ongoing Patidar agitation for quotas in government jobs and education, and more recently, the Dalit agitation following an assault on Dalits by a group of cow vigilantes.
Seven cabinet ministers were sworn in—Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Ganpat Vasava, Chimanbhai Sapariya, Babu Bokhiria, Atmaram Parmar, Dilip Thakor and Jayesh Radadiya.
Three cabinet ministers and five junior ministers were dropped, including finance minister Saurabh Patel, social justice and empowerment minister Ramanlal Vora, junior home minister Rajni Patel and women and child development minister Vasuben Trivedi.
As many as nine ministers in the new government are from the Patidar community, which constitutes about 14% of the state’s population and has been a loyal vote bank for the BJP for over two decades.
Seven members from other backward classes, three from scheduled tribes and one from a scheduled caste are also new ministers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Rupani and his team, tweeting that they would “continue the development journey" of the state.
In a separate tweet, Modi also applauded the services of Anandiben Patel, he said, “has been working tirelessly for the people of Gujarat for many years."