Bharatiya Janata Party leader Bhupendra Patel on Monday took oath as the Chief Minister of Gujarat for a second straight term at a star-studded ceremony in Gandhinagar along with a 16-member Council of Ministers, which included one woman, and later allocated portfolios to his team members, keeping home and revenue with himself.
Patel (60) was administered the oath as the 18th Chief Minister by Governor Acharya Devvrat at a grand ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, members of the Union Cabinet and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states at the Helipad Ground near the new Secretariat here, four days after the BJP stormed to power in the state with a historic mandate.
Sixteen other ministers, eight of them of cabinet rank -- the new ministerial team has representation from Patidar, Koli, tribal and Dalit communities -- were also sworn-in after the BJP won seventh straight term in office in Gujarat with victory in a record 156 Assembly seats in the 182-member House. The new entrants include 11 former ministers.
The Council of Ministers has only one woman member -- Bhauben Babariya -- who was elected from the Rajkot Rural (Schedule Castes) Assembly seat. She has been given cabinet rank.
The seven other Cabinet ministers are Kanu Desai, Rushikesh Patel, Raghvji Patel, Balvantsinh Rajput, Kunvarji Bavaliya, Mulu Bera and Kuber Dindor.
Harsh Sanghavi and Jagdish Vishwakarma were sworn in as ministers of state (MoS) with an independent charge. Sanghavi was Minister of State for Home in the earlier Bhupendra Patel government.
The six other ministers of the state are Parshottam Solanki, Bachu Khabad, Mukesh Patel, Praful Pansheriya, Kuverji Halpati and Bhikhusinh Parmar.
Of these 16 ministers, four belong to the Koli community (Bavaliya, Khabad, Solnaki and Mukesh Patel), three are Patidars (Raghavji, Rishikesh and Praful), three OBCs (Vishwakarma, Parmar and Bera) and two are tribals (Halpati and Dindor).
Sanghavi is a Jain, Desai a Brahmin, while Rajput belong to the Kshatriya community.
Prime Minister Modi, who addressed nearly three dozen campaign rallies across the state, and is widely credited for the BJP's stellar poll performance, congratulated CM Patel and his new team in a tweet.
"Congratulations to Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel on taking oath as CM of Gujarat. I would like to also congratulate all those who took oath as Ministers. This is an energetic team which will take Gujarat to even newer heights of progress" the PM tweeted after the ceremony.
Hours after taking oath in the afternoon, Chief Minister Patel presided over the first meeting of the new Cabinet around 6.30 pm and this was followed by allocation of portfolios to his team members.
Cabinet minister Kanubhai Desai has been given finance, energy and petrochemicals departments, while the only woman Cabinet member -- Babariya -- has been allocated social justice and empowerment, women and child development portfolios.
The CM kept portfolios of home, general administration, revenue, disaster management, urban development and urban housing, pilgrimage development, panchayat, science and technology, roads and building, Narmada, ports and information and broadcasting with himself, according to an official release.
Another cabinet minister Rushikesh Patel has been given health, higher and technical education, law and parliamentary and legislative affairs portfolios, while Raghavji Patel will handle agriculture, fisheries, rural housing and rural development departments.
Balwantsinh Rajput has been allotted industries, labour and employment, MSME (Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), cottage industry and civil aviation as a cabinet minister.
Cabinet member Kunvarji Bavaliya has been given water resources and water supply and food and civil supply departments.
While Mulubhai Bera has been given tourism, cultural activities, forest and environment departments as a Cabinet minister, his colleague Kuber Dindor will handle tribal development as well as primary and secondary education portfolios.
Harsh Sanghavi has been given portfolios of home, police housing, industry and cultural activities as a Minister of State (MoS). He will also handle sports and youth service, NRG (Non Resident Gujaratis) department, prisons, border security and transport portfolios as MoS with independent charge.
MoS Jagdish Vishwakarma has been given independent charge of cooperation, salt industry and protocol departments. He will also handle MSME, cottage industry, khadi and village industry and civil aviation in the capacity of a junior minister.
Parshottam Solanki has been given fisheries and animal husbandry as a Minister of State, while Bachubhai Khabad has been made MoS for panchayat and agriculture departments.
Mukesh Patel will handle forest and environment, climate change, water resources and water supply departments as a junior minister.
Praful Pansheriya has been given the charge of parliamentary and legislative affairs as well as education portfolio as a junior minister.
While Bhikhusinh Parmar has been made a junior minister for food and civil Supply as well as social justice and empowerment, his colleague Kunvarji Halpati will handle tribal development, labour and employment and rural development as an MoS.
Of the 11 former ministers who were inducted into Bhupendra Patel's new team, seven were part of the government led by him from September 2021 to December 2022. They are Sanghavi, Vishwakarma, Kanubhai Desai, Rushikesh Patel, Raghavji Patel, Kuber Dindor and Mukesh Patel.
Four others - Solanki, Bera, Khabad, and Bavaliya - had served as ministers in previous BJP governments.
Key ruling party MLAs like Alpesh Thakor, Hardik Patel and Rivaba Jadeja - who were expecting a place in the Council of Ministers - were ignored but can hope to get portfolios in a future cabinet expansion.
Former chief minister and senior BJP leader Vijay Rupani said, "The cabinet will be expanded later. This is how it is done when a new government comes in and more ministers are added during expansion."
As per norms, Gujarat, which has a 182-member Assembly, can have maximum 27 ministers, or 15 per cent of total strength of the House. Currently, it has a 17-member Council of Ministers, including the CM.
Top BJP leaders, including Union ministers and chief ministers of the party-ruled states, attended the swearing-in ceremony.
Bhupendra Patel resigned as chief minister along with his entire cabinet on Friday to pave the way for the formation of a new government following the election results. The Assembly polls were held on December 1 and 5, and results were announced on December 8.
He was elected as the leader of the BJP legislature party on Saturday, following which he met the governor and staked claim to form the next government. Patel won the Ghatlodia Assembly seat in Ahmedabad with a record margin of 1.92 lakh votes.