New Delhi, Dec 22: Ending days  of speculation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership on Friday decided that Vijay Rupani would continue a  Gujarat chief minister. Nitin Patel would be his deputy. The new cabinet will  be decided by the CM and the deputy CM, said senior party leader Arun Jaitley, who was appointed as observer for Gujarat.Also Read - Throwback Video: When Narendra Modi Took Oath As Gujarat Chief Minister on October 7, 2001 | Watch

“It has been unanimously decided in the meeting that Vijay Rupani will be the Legislature party leader and Nitin Bhai Patel will be the deputy Legislature party leader,” Jaitley said while making the announcement. Also Read - Gurajat Cabinet: CM Bhupendra Patel Keeps Home Ministry, Kanubhai Desai Gets Finance | Full List Here

Also Read - Gujarat Cabinet Reshuffle Today: Old-timers Including Nitin Patel Likely to Vacate Space For Young Leaders

“Bhupendra Singh proposed these two names for the leader and Deputy leader, it was supported by 5 other MLAs who came to the dais and supported them. This was then put to the house which they unanimously accepted. I also asked the members if anybody had any alternative proposal, and since there was none, the two were declared as unanimously elected,” Jaitley added.

Talking to reporters soon after the announcement, Rupani said people of Gujarat have shown trust in the BJP and the party will continue to work for the state’s development. “People have given us mandate for 27 years. It is a huge victory that public has shown faith in us all these years,” Rupani said in Gandhinagar. 

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.  Independent MLA Ratansinh Rathod from Lunawada has offered support to the BJP, bringing its number to 100 in the House. There were talks that the BJP may not want to continue with Rupani as Gujarat CM after winning much lesser number of seats that what the president Amit Shah had projected (150 seats). (Also Read:  BJP Gets Support of One Independent MLA in Gujarat)

December 25 is the likely date for the swearing-in of the new ministry as it is the birthday of the former prime minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, sources said.

BJP president Amit Shah had said during the campaign that the party was fighting the election under Rupani and Nitin Patel.  (Also Read:  After Victory, Another Challenge For BJP in Gujarat – Naming The CM)

Rupani was seen as a surprise choice when the party decided to replace Anandiben Patel last year. While many thought Nitin Patel was an obvious replacement of Anandiben, Rupani was eventually made the deputy chief minister.

Rupani is known to be close to Amit Shah, has a clean image, and is seen as caste neutral, qualities which may finally tilt the scales in his favour.