The oath ceremony of the new cabinet of Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel — slated to be held today — was deferred for tomorrow at the last minute after elaborate arrangements were made at the Governor’s house and large hoardings were put up. Sources indicated that differences over the new council of ministers are at the bottom of the sudden reschedule.
A terse tweet from the Chief Minister’s Office read: “The swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet of CM Shri @Bhupendrapbjp will take place tomorrow, September 16, 2021 at 1.30 pm at Raj Bhavan, Gandhinagar”.
— CMO Gujarat (@CMOGuj) September 15, 2021
The entire Gujarat cabinet had resigned last week along with then Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
In line with the view that the BJP was aiming at a hard reboot in the state ahead of next year’s assembly elections, there were reports that all 22 ministers will be dropped.
All of it was thought to have been an elaborate plan that was signed off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for their home state.
Now it appears that the local leaders are determined to have their say, if not their way as well.
Through the day today, there were meetings at different places and four or five ministers were said to have gathered at the home of Vijay Rupani. Sources said it will soon become clear if senior ministers like Nitin Patel, RC Faldu, Bhupendra Sinh Chudasma, Kaushik Patel and a few others are retained or dropped.
Sources also indicated that it was unlikely that all ministers will be dropped. Even so, the new cabinet will have its fair share of young faces and women, they added.
PM Modi’s hard reboot of the Union cabinet earlier this year was conducted after a detailed performance appraisal of the ministers. Many, who were considered to have done well, escaped the purge.
Others holding key portfolios, like Harsh Vardhan (Health), Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law and IT) and Prakash Javadekar (Environment), were dropped.
In Gujarat, Mr Rupani was said to have pushed himself out of office with what was seen as his mishandling of the second wave of Covid this summer and some other administrative issues.
The shock resignation was followed by the equally unexpected selection of Bhupendra Patel for the top post. Even the candidate said he was in the dark. Two days later, Mr Patel – said to be the compromise candidate amid several prominent names – took oath in Gandhinagar in presence of Amit Shah.