NEW DELHI/AHMEDABAD: Gujarat’s first woman chief minister, Anandiben Patel, dramatically quit on Monday, posting her resignation letter on her official website, linked to Facebook and Twitter. Her exit, which had been anticipated for some time, could help the BJP leadership’s efforts to repair the political damage in the party’s stronghold of Gujarat ahead of the assembly polls, scheduled for end-2017. The national BJP parliamentary board headed by party president  Amit Shah will hold a meeting in Delhi on Tuesday, in which Anandiben Patel’s resignation will be formally accepted.

The BJP will take two to three days to announce her successor.

A source said, “The party will read the sentiments in the state.”

Here are some of the frontrunners: Amit Shah | 52

The national BJP president and Naranpura MLA is considered to be the most likely successor to Anandiben. However, political circles are rivetted by the question — will Prime Minister Narendra Modi allow Shah to step down as the party president with elections looming in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, and Gujarat? Today, Shah is the most powerful figure in the BJP after Modi. As the former minister of state for home in Gujarat, Shah was accused of orchestrating several cases of fake encounters and remained in jail for almost a year. He was later externed from Gujarat for more than two years. He has always been Anandiben’s challenger within the BJP.

Parshottam Rupala | 62

The national BJP vice-president — who was recently appointed in the central cabinet as the minister of state, agriculture — was a popular contender for the chief minister’s post when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. However, Modi preferred Rupala’s staunch rival Anandiben as his successor to the Gujarat CM’s post. Rupala, who was a school teacher before he turned to politics, belongs to the dominant Kadva Patel community of Saurashtra. He is the most admired orator in the Gujarat BJP after Modi. Rupala was a formidable leader when Amit Shah was just a junior minister in the Modi government in Gujarat. But he had been sidelined for several years. Indeed, his vast army of supporters in the Gujarat BJP felt disappointed when he was given only the minister of state rank in the Union cabinet. Though Rupala drew anger from Patels, he still carries weight.

Nitin Patel | 60

Gujarat’s health and family welfare minister, is officially No. 2 in the cabinet. Patel has more than two decades of experience as minister, and has held the finance portfolio as well. PM Narendra Modi trusts Patel who also enjoys a good rapport with Amit Shah. Patel was deputed by the party high command to manage the Patidar crisis and headed a panel of seven ministers that examined the quota demand. He belongs to the Kadva Patel community of North Gujarat. This industrialist from Kadi gets along well with RSS notables too.

Vijay Rupani | 60

Bhikhubhai Dalsaniya | 52

The state BJP general secretary, and the most powerful leader in the party from the Modi era, is less known outside the party circles. He comes from the RSS and acts as a bridge between the sangh and the BJP. Just as Modi became the CM in 2001 without any prior experience of working in government, Dalsaniya may prove to be the dark horse. He still works in the sangh, and the question is if that will affect his chances.

Shankar Chaudhary | 46

An OBC leader from North Gujarat, he is minister of state, health and urban development. He has a slim chance if the BJP prefers an OBC candidate in the current political climate.

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