Putting aside the popular assumption that Nitin Patel will be made the next chief minister of Gujarat in order to appease to the warring community, Amit Shah chose Vijay Rupani instead, and announced Nitin Patel as his deputy on Friday. In the process, the party entrusted two of its most powerful state leaders, the responsibility of reviving the party’s popularity among voters.
The reason behind choosing Rupani is quite clear. His non-dominant Jain background is expected to help neutralise caste equations in a state where the Patel and Dalit communities are crucial vote banks. His responsibility is charted out. He needs to appease to the angry Patel and Dalit communities, and control the two decades of anti-incumbency before the state elections that are due by December, 2017. This he is expected to do considering that he hails from Rajkot, the heartland of Saurashtra that has a significant population of both Patels and Dalits.
Nitin Patel too will have his hands full. It is his clout in north Gujarat, (which was the main centre for last year’s violent protests by the Patidar or Patels demanding quota) that is going to be put to considerable use to woo back the Patels, who were actually major supporters of BJP that have over the last couple of years started moving away.