Gujarat deputy CM Nitin Patel is reportedly sulking for being allotted in-significant portfolios.
New Delhi: Trouble seems to brewing in the recently formed Gujarat government. After senior BJP leader and deputy chief minister Nitin Patel expressed unhappiness over the changes in his portfolios, Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Saturday asked him to leave the BJP and join forces with him.
Speaking to reporters, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) chief said, “If the BJP does not respect him, he should leave the party. If Gujarat deputy CM Nitin Patel along with 10 MLAs is ready to leave BJP, then I will talk to Congress to get him a good position.”
Emphasising his demand for reservation for Patidars, Mr Hardik Patel added, “I would request Nitinbhai to only say for the benefit of the community that it should get reservation. We will work together for the betterment of the state.”
Though the Congress leadership in the state and at the Centre is watching the situation keenly but quietly, a new Congress MLA echoed Mr Hardik Patel’s sentiments.
Congress MLA Virji Thummar said, “They have taken away all the good portfolios from Nitinbhai Patel. His portfolios have been given to others. I would request Nitinbhai to come with 10-15 supporting MLAs and we (Congress) will support him from outside.”
The BJP won 99 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly. The Congress bagged an impressive 77 seats, 15 short of the magic mark, 92.
A prominent Patel leader, Mr Nitin Patel has been sulking over the allocation of portfolios to him and the taking away of the powerful departments of finance, petrochemicals and urban development from him. On Friday, Mr Nitin Patel did not turn up at his office.
Sources said that he had made his displeasure known to the central leadership of the BJP on being given “light weight portfolios” despite being the deputy chief minister. Reports indicate that he has given a deadline of three days to the party to consider his demands. In the new government, he has got roads and buildings, Narmada, health, medical education and capital projects.
Sources said that while Mr Nitin Patel has met former chief minister Anandiben Patel, several Patidar leaders have either met him or are in touch with him.
PAAS leaders in the state are openly accusing the BJP of sidelining Patidar leaders. Interestingly, during the recently concluded election campaign, Mr Nitin Patel along with Union minister Purushottam Rupala were the Patidar faces of the BJP. They were instrumental in ensuring that the BJP gets a sizeable Patidar vote. The Patidars account for about 13 per cent of the state’s population.
Purvin Patel, the leader of Sardar Patel Group, another Patidar organisation, said, “The Patidar community is with Nitin Patel. The departments that he was in charge of have been snatched away from him. This amounts to injustice.”
The BJP, however, has been claiming that all is well and even if there is an issue it will be sorted out.
After the portfolio allocation, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani had made it clear that irrespective of the portfolio allocation, Mr Nitin Patel is the number two in the government.
Mr Rupani has kept home, general administration, industries, mines and minerals, urban development and petrochemicals with himself.
Saurabh Patel, who was dropped from the Cabinet when Mr Rupani took over as chief minister in 2016 after a series of allegations of irregularities and nepotism against him surfaced, has been rehabilitated now. He has been given finance and energy.
Mr Nitin Patel’s alleged three-day deadline to the party’s central leadership ends on Monday, January 1. However, three days in a newly-elected 12-day old Assembly is long time.
According to sources, the central leadership is sending a senior leader to mediate and end the crisis.