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As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) readies to assume office in Gujarat, Vijay Rupani is set to take charge as the state's chief minister for the second time. Nitin Patel will also continue in his role as the state's deputy chief minister. Rupani, who won by a margin of over 50,000 votes from the Rajkot West seat, was unanimously selected as the leader of the BJP legislature party at a meeting in the BJP state headquarters today that was attended by all the newly elected MLAs. The meeting at Kamalam, the party head office here at Gandhinagar, was convened by Jitu Vaghani, the BJP state unit president. Senior BJP leader and Union minister of finance Arun Jaitley who was in the state capital today as a Central observer from the BJP made a formal announcement on Friday afternoon. Jaitley and BJP general secretary Saroj Pandey had arrived in Gujarat to hold consultation with the MLAs here to decide on the next CM elect for the state. Speaking to the media, Jaitley explained that a procedure of consultation was followed, wherein members were asked if there were any alternatives they wanted to name. "Since there were none, the two (Rupani and Patel) were declared as unanimously elected," he said. A visibly happy Rupani-Patel duo said that they would continue to work together to ensure overall development of Gujarat. Rupani added that while the seat tally had fallen (BJP bagged 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly, its lowest tally in the last two decades), the Gujarati citizens' had given a clear mandate in favour of the BJP. "We would develop Gujarat as the role model as far as development (vikas) was considered," said Rupani adding that Patel's experience as an able administrator and politician would come in very handy in running the state administration. Soft-spoken and gentle-mannered Rupani was a frontrunner in the race to the CM's office in Gujarat. BJP president Amit Shah had earlier said during the party's poll campaign that the electoral battle would be fought under Rupani's leadership.
With BJP's seats tally falling short of what Shah's claims of 150-seats, speculation was rife this week as to whether BJP would choose to continue with Rupani as the leader. Rupani and his ministers had tendered in their resignations to Governor O P Kohli on Thursday, following the dissolution of the legislative assembly. Local political circles claim that changing Rupani as the CM after BJP's close win would have sent a wrong signal to the party cadre as well as the general public. The party thus chose to continue with the Rupan-Patel duo in Gujarat, maintaining status-quo. Rupani is largely hailed as a caste-neutral candidate here as he hails from the Jain community (which comprise 5 per cent of the state's population) and is seen as a close confidante of Amit Shah. The BJP did well in the Rupani's home constituency- winning six out of eight seats, factors that strengthened his claim for the CM's post.