Gujarat Transport Minister Vijay Rupani was today elected unopposed as BJP’s Gujarat unit president as the party braces for the 2017 assembly polls in the backdrop of the debacle in local bodies polls and the Patel quota agitation.
Rupani’s nomination was supported in the party meeting by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and three others, after which the central observer Arjun Meghwal declared him elected unopposed as no other contender was in the fray.
The 60-year-old veteran succeeds R C Faldu who headed the party in the state for two terms.
Hailing from Jain Baniya community, Rupani has scaled the party rungs from being a grass-root worker and was jailed at the age of 22 during the Emergency.
He had a term in the Rajya Sabha from 2006-12 and served as mayor of Rajkot city.
Addressing party workers after his election, Rupani exhorted them to work hard to achieve the goal of winning the assembly polls next year.
“From yesterday—when it became clear that he will be state BJP chief—many people have been calling me saying that you have been given a crown of thorns. But I do not think like that as I am confident that with over one crore dedicated workers in Gujarat, this is a very comfortable post to occupy.”
“A few years back, we (BJP) were nowhere. Now we are in power at the Centre with majority. We are in power in 12 states as well. We were not afraid when we were only in power in a few states, then why should we be afraid now?” he said.
He also took potshots at Congress saying it would be difficult in that party for a person to rise from the ranks and occupy top slots.
“In Congress party, a person like me cannot even get the post of state unit president. If you want to become the president of the state unit of Congress, then also you need to have a family background,” Rupani said, targeting state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki, son of former chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki.
On the Patel quota stir, the BJP leader said he was hopeful that a compromise would soon be arrived at with agitating Patel community members as negotiations for the same have started.
On BJP’s drubbing in local bodies polls, Rupani said that they will work hard to win back rural voters.