Powerful BJP minister Anandi Patel, who was among the 16 ministers sworn-in on Wednesday, has emerged as a clear No2 in CM Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
Vaju Vala, who was finance minister in successive state governments and presented the state budget a record 18 times, hasn’t found a place in the ministry. It was him who had in the past taken over as in-charge chief minister during Modi’s foreign visits, but it seems that Anandi Patel has edged him out in the race for No2. Vala is tipped to become Speaker of the Assembly.
Seventy-six year-old Narottam Patel, who served as minister in every state government since 1996, too has failed to find a ministerial berth this time. The surprise omission is giving shape to a new hierarchy in the government, of which Anandi Patel is emerging as a prominent member.
Narottam Patel may be anointed president of state BJP as the term of current chief RC Faldu, who lost in the recent elections, is nearing completion.
If buzz in power circles is to be believed, this could be a big step towards elevation of Anandi Patel to chief minister’s post as and when Modi shifts to Delhi for a bigger role in national politics. It is hardly a secret that she is very loyal to the chief minister.
Among other cabinet ministers of previous government, Mangubhai Patel also did not find a place in the ministry. Three other senior ministers – Jaynarayan Vyas, Dileep Sanghani and Fakir Waghela – had lost in the elections.