BJP’s record sweep of 156 seats is set to face its first trial. The new BJP government under CM Bhupendra Patel will have to walk a tightrope where it comes equilibrium between regions, castes, age and competence.
Here’s a quick list of some probables in the seventh BJP government in Gujarat.
Harsh Sanghavi: An MLA from Majura seat (under state president CR Paatil’s Lok Sabha constituency), Sanghavi holds the important portfolio of Home. Additionally, he was entrusted with revenue when cabinet minister Rajendra Trivedi was divested. Sanghavi is a diamantaire’s son and has been winning from Majura since 2012.
Shankar Chaudhary: He has been a minister in the Anandiben Patel government and currently helms the Banas Dairy. Chaudhary was defeated in the 2017 election by Congress’s Geniben Thakor on the Vav seat. This time, he won from Tharad. From the powerful Chaudhary community of the OBCs, Chaudhary has been instrumental in setting up the Dairy’s third plant in Uttar Pradesh at Varanasi, PM Modi’s constituency.
Rushikesh Patel: The health minister in the outgoing government, Rushikesh defeated Congress’s Kirit Patel from Visnagar constituency. A Patidar from Visnagar of Mehsana, he was targeted during the Hardik Patel-led quota agitation in 2015.
Amit Thaker: This Brahmin face of Gujarat BJP has been a former national president of the party’s youth wing. Thaker was elected from Vejalpur constituency, which also covers parts of Juhapura, the largest Muslim ghetto in Gujarat. Significantly, Thaker was charged with assaulting activist Medha Patkar during a peace meeting after the 2002 riots.
Alpesh Thakor: A youth leader from the OBC Thakor community, Alpesh shot into limelight while opposing the Patidar quota agitation by Hardik Patel. His victory from Gandhinagar South, despite not being familiar terrain, says it all. This will be Alpesh’s second term as MLA in Gujarat, after his earlier win from the Radhanpur seat on a Congress ticket.
Kanu Patel: Kanu Patel has been elected from Sanand constituency of Ahmedabad district for the second time. A prominent face of the Koli-Patel community, Kanu enjoys the confidence of MHA Amit Shah. Sanand, which comes under Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency, saw Patel accompanied by Shah while filing his nomination.
Jagdish Panchal: As Mos, Industries, Panchal was also entrusted charge of roads and buildings when Purnesh Modi was relieved of the office. An OBC candidate, he got re-elected from Nikol constituency in Ahmedabad city, winning by a margin of over 55,000 votes, against Congress’s Ranjitsinh Barad.
Ramanlal Vora: Among the senior-most BJP candidates, Vora is a prominent Dalit leader and has held important portfolios such as education, social justice and empowerment in the past. He has also been the Assembly Speaker. This time around, he has been elected from the reserved seat of Idar in Sabarkantha.
Manisha Vakil: MoS for Women and Child Development (independent charge) and MoS Social Justice and Empowerment in the outgoing cabinet, Vakil is a three-term MLA from the reserved Scheduled Caste constituency of Vadodara city. Considered a close aide of Anandiben Patel, Vakil worked as a teacher before being fielded from the reserved seat of Vadodara city in 2012. She is among those who pushed for inclusion of areas in her seat of a mixed neighbourhood under the Disturbed Areas Act.
Ketan Inamdar: An OBC candidate who won his third term from Savli constituency, Inamdar resigned from the party in 2020 after leaders in Vadodara and Central Gujarat were left out of the Cabinet. Inamdar is also on the board of directors at Baroda Dairy.
Purnesh Modi: Made a state cabinet minister in Bhupendra Patel government for the first time, Modi held the portfolio of tourism and pilgrimage development, and civil aviation. Like PM Modi, he too belongs to the Modhvanik community. He was stripped of the roads and buildings portfolio when the government faced flak for the dilapidated condition of roads during monsoon.
Sangita Patil: A close confidant of Gujarat BJP president CR Paatil, she has been with him since he launched the vernacular, Navgujarat Times. Like Paatil, she is also a Maharashtrian migrant. Limbayat, her constituency, is a part of the Navsari seat that Paatil won in the Lok Sabha. A constituency with mostly migrant votes, it saw a close fight with 44 candidates—a majority of them Independents—in the fray.
Vinodbhai Moradiya: MoS for Urban Housing and Urban Development, he defeated AAP state president Gopal Italia by a margin of 64,627 votes from Katargam seat. He enjoys the undivided backing of the Prajapati community.
Sandip Desai: An Anavil Brahmin, Desai was general secretary of the Surat district BJP unit. A major co-operative leader, Desai has clout in the Surat APMC, Surat District Co-operative Bank and SUMUL dairy.
Naresh Patel: Outgoing minister of tribal development, he is from the Dodiya Patel tribe who retained the Gandevi reserved seat of Navsari district that falls in CR Paatil’s Parliamentary constituency, Navsari Gandevi (ST). He played an active role in creating awareness among the tribals who were protesting the Par-Tapi-Narmada River Linking Project.
Jitu Chaudhary: He won the Kaprada (ST) in Valsad district with the lowest margin in 2017 at 170, on a Congress ticket, before deflecting to the BJP. This time, he retained the seat for the seventh consecutive term by a margin of 32,968 votes. During his non-controversial tenure, he held the portfolio of Fishery, Water Resources and Water Supply.
Kunvarji Bavaliya: The Koli leader who switched over to the BJP in 2018 after quitting Congress and was water supply minister in the Vijay Rupani government is expected to find a berth in the new council of ministers. Bavaliya won his seventh poll, handing BJP its first ever victory from Jasdan.
Jayesh Radadiya: Winning his fourth election from Jetpur, Radadiya is likely to find a place in the new government. Jayesh and his father Vitthal Radadiya deflected to the BJP in 2013 with the former finding place in governments of Narendra Modi, Anandiben Patel and Vijay Rupai before being dropped in September 2021. He is also chairman of Rajkot District Cooperative Bank and holds sway over cooperative bodies.
Darshita Shah: A pathologist who won Rajkot West seat with a record margin hails from a family of RSS functionaries. She was elected to the Rajkot Municipal Corporation twice and is presently serving her second term as deputy mayor of Rajkot. Narendra Modi contested from this seat to enter the Gujarat Assembly after being made CM in 2001. MLAs from this seat are known to land prime portfolios in the BJP government.
Bhanu Babariya: A sitting corporator at Rajkot Municipal Corporation, Babariya is said to be in the race for ministerial berth after she won Rajkot Rural (SC) seat for the third time. She was elected from this seat in 2007 and 2012 before being dropped by the BJP. After four years on the sidelines, BJP gave her a ticket to contest the RMC election and she won. Her father-in-law Madhubhai Babariya too was elected MLA from this seat in 1998.
Ramesh Tilala: He is an industrialist who is also associated with Shree Khodaldham Trust, a powerful organisation of Leuva Patels. This elections BJP has wrested back all five seats from the Congress in Amreli district and name of Kaushik Vekariya, who defeated former Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani, is also believed to be under consideration for a ministerial berth.
Sanjay Koradiya: His successful debut has been by defeating sitting Congress MLA Bhikha Joshi from Junagadh seat. The BJP won all seven seats in Bhavnagar district and veteran Shiva Gohil who won Mahuva seat is also believed to be being discussed for a ministerial berth.