While many say that his proximity to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah catapulted Vijay Rupani to Gujarat Chief Minister, replacing Anandiben Patel, there is more to the rise of Rupani.
A Jain Bania by caste, Rupani does not have the caste base that a Nitin Patel could have boasted of, but Modi and Shah seem to have chosen him banking on a different calculus -- going back to the 'Modi Model', which did not rely on caste equations but on administrative ability.
Rupani, who has held many portfolios in the Gujarat government, is known to be a shrewd administrator. He has a good track record as both Rajkot MLA and a minister, is a trusted aide to Modi and Shah, and also shares a good rapport with the RSS.
He is also known as a man who can take along all sections, has an inclusive approach and is conciliatory in tone when dealing with problems.
After the miscalculation of choosing Anandiben Patel based on her closeness to the top leadership, which has led to a weakening of the BJP's hold over Gujarat, with the dominant Patel and the politically-important Dalit communities agitated, the Modi-Shah duo must be hoping that Rupani will apply the 'healing touch' as the state heads for elections.
Rupani's elevation signals that the BJP is on a course correction in Gujarat as it was felt that Anandiben had lost grip over administration. The BJP had, in fact, earlier elevated him as state party chief while allowing him to retain his Cabinet position as minister for transport, water supply, labour and employment in the Anandiben government.
Everyone in the state BJP know Rupani as the go-to man in a crisis. He has a knack of sorting out issues and he has remained uncontroversial, several BJP leaders say of him.
Who is Vijay Rupani?
Vijay Rupani (60) started his career as a student activist of the ABVP. In 1971, he joined the RSS and later the Jan Sangh. He has been associated with the BJP since its inception. He has served as a corporator in Rajkot and also been the Mayor, following which he became a Rajya Sabha member.
When Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, he served as the general secretary of the Gujarat unit of the BJP and chairman of the Gujarat finance board.
After the resignation of Vajubhai Vala (now governor of Karnataka), Rupani was nominated to contest the Rajkot seat. He won the by-election in October 2014. He was then inducted into the cabinet by Anandiben Patel.