Vijay Rupani swore in as the Chief Minister of Gujarat on 26 Dec, usually, it is on the same day that the portfolios are distributed to the respective cabinet ministers, but it did not happen this time. Ministers were allotted their portfolios three days after the oath taking ceremony of the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Troubles could be seen at the brim from the very beginning when Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel and state BJP president Jitu Vaghani got into a huddle at the CM’s residence. A meeting was organised at the Vijay Rupani’s residence which was to be attended by all the cabinet ministers but ruckus started to arise when they were made to wait for four hours before they could attend the meeting.
Finally, when the meeting began and the portfolios were being distributed, another row of anger burst out when Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel expressed his displeasure at the portfolios assigned to him. He was hoping to get home and urban development but neither was given to him. In fact, the other two important portfolios revenue and finance were also taken away from him. This significantly portrayed him as the biggest loser in terms of the distribution of the portfolios and also the discontentment between Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Nitin Patel could be sensed.
After the poor performance of the BJP, when the party for the first time in past 22 years got the tally under 100 seats, there were speculations that Vijay Rupani may not continue as the Chief Minister. Other names that were making to the top of the lists for the top most post were Smriti Irani and Nitin Patel. If the BJP wanted to keep the caste equation in mind Patel was the idle candidate. As he hails from the Saurashtra region, where BJP suffered the most and also belongs to the Patidar community, making him the CM could possible help BJP get back the faith of the BJP.
Nitin Patel was also in the race when Anandiben Patel stepped down from the post, it was all finalized that he would be the next Chief Minister of Gujarat, but at the last moment plans were changed and Vijay Rupani was announced as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. It is said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP Party President Amit Shah, are the main commanders who decide the Chief Ministerial face. There are also talks that Nitin does not hold much good relations with Amit Shah, while Rupani is a close aide of him. Therefore it almost makes it clear why twice, Rupani was chosen over Nitin Patel.
This humiliation that Nitin suffered has not been forgotten and now he was once again insulted by not giving him his desired portfolios and even taking away the portfolios that he was taking care of, will all the more make the roads tough for the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister to get along together.
The tensions between Rupani and Patel was even evident a day before during a press conference on Thursday at 10 pm, when the usually talking Patel was keeping to himself, not making eye contacts. According to the sources, Vadodara MLA and former minister Rajendra Trivedi also confronted the Chief Minister for not including a single MLA from Vadodara in the cabinet. He also threatened to quit the party along with 10 other MLAs. This is the first time that any BJP MLA has behaved in such a manner in Gujarat.
The absence of Narendra Modi from Gujarat and the declining graph of BJP in the state is becoming a case of worry for the central leadership. In order to take control of the situation and hide the differences between Vijay Rupani and Nitin Patel, state BJP president Jitu Vaghani entered Swarnim Sankul – where the cabinet meeting was being held and addressed the MLAs, even though he was not in the cabinet.
Amid the bad performance of the BJP in Gujarat for nailing only 99 of the total 182 seats and the nearing Lok Sabha elections due in 2019, the question that is being raised witnessing the rift within the Gujarat BJP is how long the government may last in the state?