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New Gujarat CM Anandiben to be sworn in on 22 May

LiveMint logoLiveMint 20-05-2014 Maulik Pathak

Ahmedabad: Anandiben Patel, revenue minister in the Gujarat cabinet and a close colleague of Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi, will be sworn in as the new chief minister on Thursday, according to two officials in the chief minister’s office.

The elevation will make her the first woman chief minister of Gujarat.

The swearing-in ceremony, to be held in Gandhinagar, will be attended by Modi. An official announcement is expected to be made on Wednesday, following a special session of the state assembly to felicitate Modi.

Modi is expected to tender his resignation as chief minister after Wednesday’s farewell function, according to one of the two officials quoted above. The session will also elect Patel, 72, as the new leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat, the official added.

Patel has been seen as close to Modi ever since he became chief minister in 2001. A cabinet minister since 1998, in the previous BJP administration, Patel has handled a string of important portfolios such as revenue, disaster management, education and women and child development.

One of the most powerful ministers in Modi’s cabinet, her current portfolios include road and building; urban development and urban housing; disaster management, and capital projects.

She has presided over all important cabinet and state government meetings, including in areas outside her portfolios, ever since Modi got busy campaigning for national elections after being named the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in September, said a BJP leader close to the development. He declined to be named.

Her importance in Modi’s government can be gauged from the fact that in the 2012 Assembly polls she was moved from Patan constituency to Ghatlodia in Ahmedabad. Modi’s close confidant Amit Shah, who has now emerged as a master strategist, vacated the seat for Anandiben and shifted to Naranpura constituency.

“Anandiben is the natural choice given that she has been handling various departments for the last eight months. Modi has also discussed this with top BJP and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor) leaders as well and they seem to be in agreement as well,” the BJP leader said.

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