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Who will succeed Jitu Vaghani as BJP Gujarat president?

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Jitu Vaghani, the current BJP state chief, seems to be a man of great fortunes. First, he was the most unexpected choice for the state party president when he was nominated for the post in 2016. Then, even after his term expired, there was a lengthy delay in naming his successor as a result of which he continues to enjoy the post.

Many in the BJP feel that he may be repeated for the post of party president, but Gujarat Exclusive has learnt that it is almost certain that he may be replaced. And the new nomination will happen immediately after Rajya Sabha polls.

BJP Gujarat was to nominate a new state chief in December last year but the decision was put off due to internal reasons, it got delayed further and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit India. After that, all big political decisions were put on the backburner.

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But senior leaders in state BJP have opined that the party needs a new face. And if insiders are to be believed, the post is most likely to go to someone from the Patidar community, mostly from the Leuva Patels of Saurashtra. There are many contenders for the post. But there is a group that wants to grab the post for a party person from North Gujarat.

At present, Mansukh Mandaviya, the Leuva Patel leader from Saurashtra may get the opportunity to lead the party provided he gets a go ahead from the prime minister. State minister RC Faldu is also a strong contender for the post, if at all Saurashtra gets the opportunity.

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Many in the party are trying for Rajni Patel too. But his nomination, many feel, may fail as Nitin Patel – another Kadva Patidar from North Gujarat is the deputy chief minister in the present government. If two senior positions go to Kadva Patidars from North Gujarat, the biggest chunk of the BJP base – the Leuva Patidars may be enraged. But, if at all Rajni Patel gets a chance, then there will be an immediate discussion within the party about the future of Nitin Patel.

The buzz is that along with Narendra Modi, opinions of Amit Shah and former chief minister Anandiben Patel will weigh high on the choice for the post. Let’s see who gets the upper hand. But the certain thing is that Jitu Vaghani’s fortunes as far as the post is concerned has been fading and fading fast.

(The author is a senior journalist with over two decades of experience covering Gandhinagar, bureaucracy and politics in Gujarat.)