New Delhi/ Gandhinagar: A crisis in the newly-elected Gujarat government ended on Sunday with BJP president Amit Shah’s intervention. The party president managed to placate deputy CM Nitin Patel whose displeasure over not getting portfolios of his choice had exposed the cracks in the party and invited overtures from the Opposition Congress and Patidhar leader Hardik Patel.
After a telephonic discussion with Mr Shah, Mr Patel was allotted the finance portfolio and he took charge in office, ending his abstention frome office in protest against “low-profile” portfolios.
Mr Patel agreed to take charge after Mr Shah assured him that he will be given a portfolio fitting his “stature” as Number 2 in the government.
“BJP president Amit Shah called up in the morning and assured me that I will be given a portfolio which befits my stature as the number two in the Cabinet and as the deputy chief minister,” Mr Patel told reporters at his residence.
Mr Patel, who was allocated road and building, health, medical education, Narmada portfolios, also took charge of the finance portfolio in the afternoon and left for his Assembly constituency, Mehsana.
Shortly after his arrival at Mehsana, chief minister Vijay Rupani announced in Gandhinagar that the finance portfolio has been given to Mr Patel. The finance portfolio was earlier allocated to Saurabh Patel.
“We have made certain changes in the portfolios. We have given finance to Nitinbhai. With this, the issue is over now. Such small things happen in a big family like the BJP. I have already sent a letter to the governor O.P. Kohli, informing him of this change in the portfolios,” the chief minister told reporters.
Earlier, Mr Patel had expressed his displeasure over his portfolios and said maintained that the issue was not about some departments, but about “self-respect”.
“I had conveyed to the party high command to either give me respectable departments or relive me from the Cabinet,” he said. Mr Patel said that he had been serving the party like a “loyal and disciplined” soldier.
While announcing the portfolios two days back, Mr Rupani had said, “It is not true that the minister, who has the finance portfolio, is the number two in the Cabinet. Nitin Patel is our senior leader and will remain the number two.”
After the row erupted, Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel had suggested to Mr Patel to talk to the Congress to get the respect he deserved. Senior Congress MLA Virji Thummar had said that Mr Patel could be made the chief minister with the Congress’ support if he quit the BJP. The Opposition party, however, clarified that Mr Thummar was speaking in his personal capacity and described the row over portfolio distribution as the BJP’s “internal matter”.