Mr. Rupani will replace Anandiben Patel, who resigned on Monday, and will serve as Gujarat chief minister for less than one and a half years before assembly elections are held in the state.
After many years, the BJP is seen at a disadvantage in Gujarat as it heads to the elections. Ms. Patel was accused of mishandling two large uprisings in the state – the Patel or Patidar agitation and the recent Dalit anger over a brutal assault on four young men by cow vigilantes – and was also blamed for a setback in civic elections.
Her successor has to effect urgent corrections in time for the elections. While the Patidars have been a loyal BJP support base for years, Dalits in the state have also voted for the party in the last few elections.
BJP leader Amit Shah is in Ahmedabad and attended a meeting of BJP lawmakers this evening called to elect a new leader. He held talks with state leaders and Nitin Patel’s name was consistently at the top of a list of frontrunners.
Anandiben Patel, Gujarat’s first woman chief minister, had announced her resignation on Facebook on Monday, saying she was quitting two months before her 75th birthday in accordance with the party’s practice of retiring older leaders to give a chance to younger leaders.