Elevation of two junior Ministers to the Cabinet rank and induction of three MPs as junior Ministers from Gujarat in the Union government appears to be part of the ruling BJP’s strategy to give representation to the Patidars and the OBCs ahead of the next year’s Assembly polls.
Mansukh Mandavia and Parshottam Rupala, both belonging to the powerful Patidar community, were sworn in as Cabinet Ministers.
Both are Rajya Sabha members and hail from the politically important Saurashtra region.
In fact, Mr. Mandavia is often seen as a chief ministerial contender if the party decides to replace Vijay Rupani. Both have been openly demanding that the next CM should be from the community.
Naresh Patel, another community leader with a substantial base, also demanded so. After his statement, several Patidar leaders have joined the Aam Admi Party (AAP), which wants to emerge as an alternative to the BJP.
In Surat, leading businessman and influential Patidar leader Mahesh Savani joined the AAP while several others are said to be contemplating to do so.
In a move seen as an attempt to woo the OBCs, Devusinh Chauhan, Darshana Jordosh and Dr. Mahendra Munjpara, MPs of Kheda, Surat and Surendranagar seats respectively, have been accommodated as Ministers of State.
Mr. Chauhan and Ms. Jordosh are two-term MPs while Dr. Munjapara is a first timer.
In Gujarat, the BJP won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the parliamentary polls in 2019 and holds eight of the 11 Rajya Sabha seats.
The BJP picked up a senior tribal leader Mangubhai Patel as Governor of Madhya Pradesh. Mr. Mangubhai has been a six-time legislator and former Minister of Environment and Forest and Tribal Development in Gujarat.
“The party has given due importance to all communities in the Centre and the state government,” a party leader said.