02/08/2016 9:10 AM IST | Updated 02/08/2016 9:20 AM IST

Vijay Rupani May Be The Next Gujarat Chief Minister

The race has begun.

Facebook/Vijay Rupani

Vijay Rupani, the state president of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat and the current transport and water supply minister, has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Anandiben Patel, who resigned as chief minister yesterday. According to multiple reports, the Rajkot MLA's close ties to BJP's central leadership and his Jain upbringing makes him a "natural choice" to replace Patel.

Rupani, who has never been in the eye of controversy, is well-regarded by the right-wing, Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, where he was an active student member in his youth.

"What has been remarkable about him is the fact that he has always managed to get close to whosoever came to power and never was entangled in any controversy," an unnamed BJP source told Economic Times.

The veteran political leader—who incidentally turns 60 today—is reportedly the only member in the state cabinet to have been jailed during the Emergency.

"Facing the heat of the Patidar agitation and Dalit outrage, the BJP also wants a face that can pacify all communities," an unnamed senior BJP leader told Hindustan Times.

Facebook/Vijay Rupani

Others who are in the race to become Gujarat's CM reportedly include state health minister Nitin Patel, and MLA Saurabh Patel. Meanwhile RSS leader Bhiku Dalsania and Gujarat agriculture minister Parshottam Rupala may also be considered.

BJP national president Amit Shah has said that the party's parliamentary board would make a decision on Patel's replacement.