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Anandiben Patel to be new CM of Gujarat

Gandhinagar, May 21 (PTI): Gujarat Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel, 73, was on Wednesday elected leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Legislature Party Leader, and succeed Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of the state.

Patel's name was proposed and adopted unanimously at a meeting of the Legislature Party in the presence of Modi, who had moments earlier had resigned as the chief minister.

Modi's close aide Amit Shah and BJP General Secretary Thavar Chand Ghelot were also present.

Modi, the longest-serving chief minister of the state, who led BJP to a spectacular victory in the Lok Sabha elections, will take over as prime minister on Monday.

Anandiben will be the first woman chief minister of Gujarat.

In her acceptance speech, Patel turned emotional and thanked Modi and others for making her the chief minister.

Patel, considered to be very close to Modi, also held the Urban Development portfolio in the Modi government. She was also a minister in the government of Modi's predecessor Keshubhai Patel.

A school teacher by profession, she had left her job to join politics.

Anandiben is seen as a disciplinarian and hard taskmaster who puts a premium on probity, qualities often associated with her predecessor.

In Gujarat, Patel and Amit Shah are often described as Modi’s “left and right arms”.

Patel holds the key portfolios of urban development, revenue and disaster management and was earlier in charge of education ministry, driving successfully some of the key Modi projects, including boosting of female literacy.

The choice of Patel also takes into account the BJP's social arithmetic as the Patel community is the largest and most influential caste in the state and the backbone of its support base for over more than two decades.

Married to Mafatbhai Patel, a professor, she has been living away from her family since mid-1990s and they have a son and a daughter.

Patel shot into fame when as a school teacher she jumped into Sardar Sarovar reservoir in 1987 to save two girls from drowning.

Besides winning a gallantry award from the Governor, her heroics also caught the attention of BJP leaders, some of whom were familiar with her husband, who wanted the educated and brave woman to join their party.