A tough administrator and hard taskmaster, the first woman Chief Minister of Gujarat, was seen as a natural heir to the Prime Minister designate as she headed the group of ministers tasked with the responsibility to run the state's day-to-day affairs during his hectic Lok Sabha campaign.

"She is a bit strict but good at heart," said Modi at the BJP Legislature party meeting here on Wednesday.

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

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

The choice of Patel also takes into account the BJP's social arithmetic as 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.

Known for her no-nonsense image, she is the longest serving BJP minister who joined the party in late 80s and rose steadily through the ranks.

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.

(JPN/Agencies)

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