When BJP legislator Bhupendra Patel took oath as the new Gujarat chief minister on Monday afternoon, he became the fifth politician from the Patidar community to occupy the top post since the state’s formation in1960, indicating the clout wielded by the influential social group.
Gujarat has had five Patel chief ministers out of total 17 since the state was formed 61 years ago.
Bhupendra Patel (59), the ruling BJP’s surprise pick for the top job, has taken charge when just over a year is left for assembly polls in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
He is the first-time MLA from Ghatlodia in Ahmedabad and his elevation is being seen as an attempt by the BJP to woo the Patidars ahead of the 2022 polls and retain its grip on Gujarat, which is under saffron rule for more than two decades.
Prior to Bhupendra Patel, Gujarat saw Anandiben Patel, Keshubhai Patel, Babubhai Patel and Chimanbhai Patel as chief ministers belonging to the Patidar or Patel community.
Most of the other Chief Ministers were from the OBC community like Modi and Madhavsinh Solanki.
Bhupendra Patel, who took oath as the 17th CM of Gujarat at the Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar, is a first-time MLA and is considered close to Anandiben Patel, who had resigned from the top post in August 2016 following the statewide Patidar quota agitation which had turned violent.
Late Chimanbhai Patel, a Congressman, was the first Patidar chief minister of Gujarat.
He assumed the office for the first time in July 1973.
He resigned in February 1974 as a fallout of ‘Navnirman Andolan’, an agitation started by college students against a hike in hostel food bill.
Chimanbhai Patel once again became the CM in October 1990 and remained in office till his death in February 1994.
Late Babubhai Jasbhai Patel, a Janata Morcha and Janata Party leader, also held the CM’s post twice.
His first term was between June 1975 and March 1976.
He assumed the office again from April 1977 to February 1980.
Late Keshubhai Patel was the first BJP Chief Minister of Gujarat.
He assumed the office in March 1995 after the BJP gained a decisive majority in the Assembly polls.
However, Keshubhai Patel resigned seven months later as his party colleague Shankersinh Vaghela, who wanted to be the CM after BJP’s victory, revolted against him.
The BJP, led by Keshubhai Patel, returned to power in the 1998 assembly elections and he once again became the chief minister.
However, he resigned prematurely in October 2001, citing poor health, paving the way for Modi who held the CM’s post till 2014.
After Modi left Gujarat in May 2014 to take over as the Prime Minister, the BJP handed over the reins of Gujarat to Anandiben Patel, who contested from the Ghatlodia Assembly seat of Ahmedabad.
However, she resigned in August 2016 citing BJP’s rule (not mentioned in party constitution) which bars leaders above the age of 75 from holding any important positions.
Contrary to her claims, political experts believed she resigned to quell the anger of the agitating Patidar community, which was upset at the BJP for not accepting the demand of giving OBC tag to the social group (to make its members eligible for quota in jobs and education).
In 2016, when Nitin Patel was seen as a strong contender for the top post, the BJP selected Vijay Rupani, a Jain, as the CM.
The Patidars constitute 13 per cent to 14 per cent of Gujarat’s population.