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Patel MLA Jitu Vaghani takes over as Gujarat BJP chief

Thursday, Aug 11, 2016,11:05 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Gandhinagar | Seeking to set the caste equations right in run-up to high-stake Assembly polls, the BJP today selected party MLA Jitu Vaghani, a Patel, as new state unit president in the place of Vijay Rupani who was handed the charge of Chief Minister recently.

After BJP national president Amit Shah appointed him as the party head of state, Vaghani (46), who represents Bhavnagar West seat, took the charge at BJP headquarter here this evening and vowed to give his best to strengthen the party. Vaghani was given grand welcome upon his arrival and was greeted by Rupani, Deputy CM Nitin Patel and many senior Cabinet ministers. Talking to reporters, Vaghani, a Leuva Patel, assured that BJP will win the hearts of Gujaratis and once again come back to power in 2017.

I express my gratitude to Amit Shah for putting trust in me and giving me such an important responsibility. I want to assure the party leaders that I will give my best to strengthen the party ahead of the 2017 polls. We all party workers will once again win hearts of people and give thumping victory to the BJP in 2017, he said. Vaghani, a relatively young Patel face, had earlier served as the president of state BJP Youth Wing. He also worked as the Gujarat unit BJP Secretary in the past.

Announcement of Vaghani’s name was made by the party unit after his appointment was communicated to it from Central party unit. Vaghani became MLA for the first time in 2012, after losing to Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil in 2007. BJP is firefighting to counter the perception of being anti-Patel in the wake of Patidar quota agitation for OBC status, and is doing a course correction to retain Patels, its loyal vote bank and key to power. While Vaghani is a Leuva Patel, Deputy Chief Minister and senior leader Nitin Patel belongs to Kadva sub-caste of Patels.

However, Rupani refuted any caste angle in Vaghani’s appointment, saying Gujarat BJP had Patel leaders as its presidents in the past also. Before I was appointed as the party chief, Parshottam Rupala and R C Faldu, both Patels, had served as BJP chiefs for almost 12 years. Thus, it is not true that we have selected Vaghani because of his caste, Rupani told reporters.

The CM expressed confidence that Vaghani will lead the party to victory in 2017. We all are glad that party has got a young president. I am confident that both party and government will work together to see that Gujarat remains the fortress of BJP, Rupani added.