With exit polls predicting a victory for the NDA, Gujarat BJP leaders today went into a huddle, triggering speculations about finding a successor to Narendra Modi, but the party dismissed such conjectures and described the talks as "routine".
The core group of Gujarat BJP met here today as part of a stock-taking exercise following conclusion of the nine-phase Lok Sabha polls yesterday, party sources said. The meeting chaired by state BJP chief R C Faldu set off speculations about discussions being held to find Modi's successor after he moves over to Delhi.
Another meeting of the BJP legislature party and top state functionaries scheduled later in the day in Gandhinagar where Modi, BJP's prime ministerial pick, would also be present, reinforced the speculations. However, BJP's state unit general secretary Vijay Rupani described these meetings as "routine" and said any decision on the next Chief Minister will be taken only after May 16, when the results of the Lok Sabha elections are out.
"The issue of the next Chief Minister will only be discussed after May 16. That too will be as per our central parliamentary board's decision," Rupani said. Several names including those of Amit Shah, BJP national general secretary and Modi's pointsman in key battleground state of Uttar Pradesh, and senior ministers Anandi Patel, Nitin Patel, Saurabh Patel besides organising secretary of the state party Bhiku Dalsania are doing the rounds as possible successor to the incumbent Gujarat CM.
Nitin Patel and Dalsania have openly expressed their willingness to take up the top job. "I am ready to be Chief Minister if the party asks me to take up the job," Patel had told PTI. "If you ask this question to any MLA that are you ready to be the chief minister, he will reply in the affirmative. If you ask Virat Kohli would he like to be captain of India, obviously he would not say no," Patel said.
Dalsania had also said that he was ready to take up the job if the party so decided.