Vijay Rupani has taken oath as the 16th Chief Minister of Gujarat, after the Bharatiya Janata Party's victory in the recent Assembly elections. The state's 20-member Council of Ministers was administered the oath of secrecy and office in a high-profile function that saw top leaders in attendance, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP patriarch LK Advani, party president Amit Shah, and top union ministers and chief ministers from states where BJP is ruling.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel was sworn in along with other top names like former state BJP chief RC Faldu, former minister Kaushik Patel, and sitting ministers like Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Dilip Thakor, and Jayesh Radadia. Leaders who were dropped from the ministry when Rupani became CM in 2016- Saurabh Patel and Parshottam Solanki, were re-inducted. Babu Bokhiria and Vallabh Kakadia were dropped from the Council even though they won in the recent Assembly polls. Just one woman legislator, Vibhavariben Dave, finds a place in the new Cabinet while one SC legislator Ishwarbhai Parmar and one tribal legislator Ganpat Vasava have been included in the Council.
Nitin Patel absent, wrests back finance portfolio
Deputy CM Nitin Patel was vocally unhappy over not getting his choice of portfolios in the new cabinet, and managed to get back charge over the finance portfolio once again. He agreed to resume office after an intervention from Amit Shah. Rupani met Governor OP Kohli and gave him a letter informing him of the new allocation to Patel. Along with finance, Patel will also hold the roads and building, health and family welfare, medical education, Narmada, Kalpasar and Capital Project ministries. Talking to the media at his residence, Patel said, “BJP president Amit Shah called up in the morning and assured me that I will be given a portfolio which befits my stature as the number two in the cabinet and as the deputy chief minister.”
He said that the issue was not about departments, but about “self respect”. “I had conveyed to the party high-command to either give me respectable departments or relieve me from the cabinet.” He added that he had been serving the party as a “loyal and disciplined” soldier for the last 40 years. Rupani cleared the air and apprised of the changes in portfolios saying, “We have made certain changes in the portfolios. We have given finance to Nitinbhai. With this, the issue is over now. Such small things happen in a big family like the BJP.”
While in the previous government headed by Rupani, Patel handled key portfolios of finance and urban development among other departments, this time, the department was handed to Saurabh Patel, while Rupani kept urban development to himself. Unhappy over the changes, Nitin refrained from taking charge of the allotted departments, prompting the party to console the senior Patidar leader.
Gujarat Cabinet Ministers are Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, R.C Faldu, Kaushik Patel, Saurabh Patel, Ganpat Vasava, Jayesh Radadiya and Ishwarbhai R. Parmar. While Ministers of State are, Pradipsinh Jadeja, Parbatbhai Patel, Jaydrathsinh Parmar, Ramanlal Nanubhai Patkar, Parsottam Solanki, Ishwarsinh Patel, Vasanbhai Ahir, Kishor Kanani, Bachubhai Maganbhai Khabad and Vibhavari Dave.
Himachal Cabinet a blend of the old and the new
Himachal Pradesh, that went to polls close to Gujarat, too inducted a new cabinet, creating a perfect mix of both, old and new faces in the ministry. After the BJP secured twin wins in December, the party had a short-list for prospective leaders to take office in the northern state. The Himachal cabinet was headed by new and “young” Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur who has stated that his cabinet has “both experienced and new faces”.
In his first official interaction with reporters, a day after being elected as the BJP Legislature Party Leader in the Assembly, he said his top priorities would be restoring law and order situation, to do away with the VIP culture, to review all decisions of the previous Congress government in past three months, minimise wasteful expenditure, and develop infrastructure. The five-time legislator who is known for his humble and low-profile nature, was sworn-in at the Ridge on December 27 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.
The brand new cabinet has six new faces and five old ones. There are only 12 ministers including the CM, in the comparatively small 68-member House.