Anandiben Patel to be next Gujarat CM

Gandhinagar, May 21 (IANS) Narendra Modi confidante Anandiben Patel was Wednesday unanimously elected leader of the BJP Legislature Party, paving the way for her to succeed her mentor and become the first woman chief minister of Gujarat.

Modi quit as chief minister Wednesday after leading his party to a stunning victory in the general election. He is to be sworn in as India's next prime minister Monday.

Teacher-turned-politician Patel, 73, promised to carry forward the glorious traditions set by Modi and leave no stone unturned for the development of the state.

Addressing members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Legislature Party after her elevation, Patel said she would live up to the expectations of the party and people in her new role as chief minister.

"I shall not betray the trust imposed in me by the party and people of the state, there shall be no let up in the progress of Gujarat," a teary-eyed Patel said in her acceptance speech in chaste Gujarati at the Town Hall here.

Paying rich tributes to Modi, Patel said Modi ensured tremendous progress of the state during his reign and she would take it further.

"He (Modi) is now leaving the banks of Sabarmati river and going to the banks of Yamuna river," Patel said, referring to the rivers flowing near the Gujarat capital and the national capital New Delhi.

Earlier, in a brief meeting of the BJP-GLP in the presence of Modi, BJP national secretary Amit Shah and other senior state and central leaders, Patel was unanimously elected its leader.

Patel will be sworn as the new chief minister here Thursday.

Congratulating Patel, Modi lauded her teaching skills and leadership abilities both as a minister and a party worker.

"She was a strict teacher. At times, it is good for the pupils," Modi said in a mischievous note amidst laughter, but dropped a hint at Patel's future tenure as chief minister.

"I governed the state for 4,609 days, and was elected four times as chief minister. I am thankful to the people of Gujarat for giving me an opportunity to serve them. I have served them and experienced the longest tenure as CM of this state. Gujarat has touched new heights of development and will continue in future. Now, I am a former chief minister," Modi said.

Bursting of crackers and fireworks greeted Patel's election as chief minister in Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Mehsana and other places by jubilant party workers.