Other States

The rise and rise of Vijay Rupani

It has been a meteoric rise for 60-year-old Vijay Rupani. The first time MLA was inducted into the cabinet and entrusted with crucial portfolios of transport, water resources and labour and employment, became State party president and has now been named the Chief Minister — all this in less than two years.

On Friday evening, amid high drama, the BJP named Mr Rupani as the next Chief Minister because party president Amit Shah backed him against senior Cabinet Minister Nitin Patel, who was supported by outgoing Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.

Beginning in ABVP

Mr. Rupani was born in Burma and grew up in Saurashtra. His political journey began when he joined the Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) during his students days in Rajkot university and was jailed during the Emergency. “Rupani has a knack for being the right man at the right place at right time. He was Keshubhai Patel’s right hand man in Rajkot when Patel was CM. Then he became Narendra Modi’s trusted aide when Modi was CM here and now he is a confidant of party president Amit Shah,” said a senior RSS leader from Saurashtra.

Mr. Rupani graduated from students politics to Rajkot city politics when he became municipal councillor and then Mayor in 1996-97.

Though he lacks administrative experience, he has vast organisational experience having been general secretary of the State BJP for several years and in charge of the party’s affairs in Saurashtra, the State’s largest region with 57 MLAs.

Rewarded for loyalty

For switching his allegiance from Mr. Keshubhai Patel to Mr. Modi, Mr. Rupani was rewarded with a Rajya Sabha term from 2006 to 2012 and after his term ended, he was appointed as Chairman of Gujarat Municipal Finance Board (GMFB).

His big moment came when Vajubhai Vala, a top BJP leader from Rajkot was made Karnataka Governor by the BJP government in 2014. After Mr. Vala’s elevation, Mr. Rupani was fielded from his Assembly seat, Rajkot West. He won and went on to become a Cabinet Minister.

In 2015, Mr. Rupani was appointed State party president because national president Amit Shah was not in favour of Mansukh Mandavia, a candidate supported by Ms. Patel.

Interestingly, Mr Rupani did not resign from the ministry after he became party president. Instead he became a parallel power centre controlling the party as well as holding important portfolios in the government.

Finally on Friday, backed by Mr. Shah, he became Chief Minister upstaging Nitin Patel.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 9:12:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/The-rise-and-rise-of-Vijay-Rupani/article14555245.ece

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