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Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Thursday resigned along with his council of ministers, a day after Governor O P Kohli dissolved the legislative assembly following the recently-concluded polls, paving the way for formation of a new government. Rupani, accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and other ministers visited Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar and handed over their resignation letters to the governor. Rupani, however, would serve as the caretaker chief minister till the formation of a new government. "Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his entire council of ministers have tendered their resignations to Governor O P Kohli who has accepted them," Patel told reporters outside Raj Bhavan. In the recently concluded polls, BJP retained power by winning 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly while the Congress claimed 77.
Six seats went to others, including three Independents. Meanwhile, Patel said a meeting of all the newly-elected BJP MLAs would be convened soon by state BJP unit president Jitu Vaghani to select the next chief minister. However, he refused to assign any timeline for the meeting and formation of the next government. He said the entire process to select the next chief minister will be carried out under the supervision of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP general secretary Saroj Pandey who have been appointed as observers by the central leadership. "Since Parliament is in session, the party (leadership) will inform us in one or two days as to when Arun Jaitleyji and Saroj Pandeyji would come here. In their presence, MLAs would take a decision about the new chief minister," Patel added. Though speculation is doing rounds on who will be the next chief minister, mild-mannered Rupani seems to be a front-runner and is likely to retain the job. Sources in the BJP had said the party was likely to stick with Rupani. BJP president Amit Shah had said during the campaign that the party was fighting the election under Rupani and Nitin Patel. Sources had said the central leadership may also think of changing the chief minister following the narrow win of the BJP. Besides Rupani, the other names doing the rounds for the top job in the state are those of Nitin Patel and Mansukh Mandavia, a Rayja Sabha member from Gujarat who is a member of the Narendra Modi government. Mandavia is from the Patidar community. Earlier, Rupani had said the party's parliamentary board will take the final decision. December 25 is the likely date for the swearing-in of the new ministry as it is the birthday of former prime minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the sources had said.
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