The BJP had registered a sixth straight Assembly poll win in the key western state on December 18, winning 99 seats in the 182-member House.
The BJP on Friday retained Vijay Rupani and Nitin Patel as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat, but it found the process of forming a government in Himachal Pradesh tricky after rival groups staked claim.
The BJP legislature party in Gujarat unanimously elected Mr. Rupani and Mr. Patel but the central observers to Himachal Pradesh — Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Tomar — had to face sloganeering from the supporters of the likely candidate for chief minister Jairam Thakur and the party’s now defeated chief ministerial face Prem Kumar Dhumal.
The election of Mr. Rupani and Mr. Patel in Gandhinagar was held in the presence of Union Minister Arun Jaitley, the party’s central observer. “A proposal to elect Vijay Rupani as leader of the BJP legislature party and Nitin Patel as deputy leader of the legislature party has been adopted,” Mr. Jaitley announced.
The proposal was moved by senior BJP MLA Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and supported by five other MLAs before being passed unanimously.
The party’s victory in Gujarat, albeit with a much reduced margin than last time had fuelled speculation that there might be a change in Chief Minister for this term but what weighed in Mr. Rupani’s favour, sources say, was the fact that he had been given a short time of around a year and a half to be at the helm of affairs and at a time when the party was facing a severe challenge from the Patidar agitation and a looming election.
Proximity to Shah
“He also belongs to a numerically small community (Jain) which does not challenge equations,” said a source. Mr. Rupani’s proximity to party chief Amit Shah also weighed heavily in his favour.
As for Himachal Pradesh, Ms. Sitharaman and Mr. Tomar and State prabhari Mangal Pandey returned to Delhi on Friday after taking the feedback from the freshly elected MLAs and assessing the sentiment on the election of the new Chief Minister.
A large number of supporters of Mr. Dhumal and Mr. Thakur raised slogans before the central observers and tried to convince them on their claims.
The central observers held discussions with senior RSS leaders before they met the MPs, the MLAs and the party core group at the State guest house. The party parliamentary board would finalise the name of the chief ministerial candidate, they said.