Vijay Rupani faces Patidar anger as Nitin Patel stays away

Speaking to mediapersons Saturday, Nitin Patel denied any plans to quit the BJP, but admitted he had grievances which he had conveyed to the party high command. He said he felt the party would take appropriate action.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Updated: December 31, 2017 10:30 am
Vijay Rupani profile While Rupani has kept the Urban Development portfolio this time, senior leader Saurabh Patel has Finance.  (Express photo by Javed)

The newly formed Vijay Rupani-led BJP government found itself in the middle of a crisis on Saturday with Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel staying away from office for the second day, and Patidar leaders calling the portfolios allotted to him an “injustice to the community”. Some groups have called for a bandh in Mehsana, which is represented by Nitin Patel, a seven-time MLA.

The Deputy CM has been given the portfolios of Health and Family Welfare, Medical Education, Roads and Buildings, Narmada, Kalpasar and Patnagar Yojana. According to sources, he is unhappy about important portfolios such as Finance and Urban Development being taken away from him in the new Cabinet, despite him still being the second in chain of command. While Rupani has kept the Urban Development portfolio this time, senior leader Saurabh Patel has Finance.

While Nitin Patel refused to speak to the media, TV9 Gujarati channel reported him as denying any plans to quit the BJP, but admitting he had grievances which he had conveyed to the party high command. He said he felt the party would take appropriate action, the channel reported. “Rupani could be Chief Minister, I have no problem with that, but the party do something to keep my self-respect,” TV9 Gujarati quoted Nitin Patel as saying.

Patidar community leaders like Sardar Patel Group’s Lalji Patel and Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel have rallied behind Nitin Patel. A string of BJP leaders called on the Deputy CM at his residence Saturday, including senior leader from Surat and former minister Narottam Patel. “Yes, I met Nitinbhai today at his residence in Ahmedabad. I am with him in his resistance against the injustice done to him,” Narottam Patel said.

By late Saturday, a shamiana had been erected outside Nitin Patel’s house, for the people who had gathered outside. The minister, who stayed indoors the whole day, came out around 11.15 pm to thank the people waiting, and asked them to leave.

Last August, Nitin Patel’s name had done the rounds as Anandiben Patel’s replacement for CM till the last minute, before the party had picked Rupani and made him deputy CM instead. Nitin Patel is senior to Rupani in the government, having held ministerial berths in the Narendra Modi-led regime.

Nitin Patel’s win from Mehsana this time was hard-fought, with the constituency a Patidar bastion.

Narottam Patel said, “Nitinbhai is a senior minister and his dignity has to be restored. His main grievance is against taking away of the two important portfolios Urban Development and Finance from him. The BJP has done well in urban areas and Nitinbhai played a key role in managing the Urban Development portfolio. And still the Chief Minister took away the portfolio and kept it with him.”

Trying to take advantage of the BJP dispute, Hardik Patel suggested that Nitin Patel quit the BJP with 10 MLAs and “join the Congress”. Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of a PAAS meeting, Hardik said, “As a veteran politician, Nitinbhai (Patel) worked hard for 27 years to ensure that (the BJP) stays in power. The community members need to understand that such politicians are being sidelined. I am not giving any suggestion, but asking him to ponder as to why he is not being given respect despite working so hard. I would request Nitinbhai to join us and together we will fight against the arrogant people (of the BJP)… If Nitinbhai makes up his mind and says he is ready to resign from the party and that 10 more MLAs are ready to tender their resignation, we are ready to fully support him.”

He added, “To ensure good governance in Gujarat, we will talk to the Congress to include Nitinbhai and give him the post he deserves.”

Hardik also said he had messaged the Deputy CM on Friday expressing “solidarity”.

While asking the BJP to restore Nitin Patel’s “honour”, Lalji Patel said he supported the call for a “bandh” in Mehsana on January 1 if the issue was not resolved.

BJP general secretary in-charge of Gujarat Bhupender Yadav could not be reached for comments.

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  1. Samar Pahari
    Dec 31, 2017 at 10:48 am
    Why Patidar agitation has so much clout at Mehsana, the place from where Nitin Patel comes? Why Lalji Patel and Hardik Patel and Narottam Patel with Saurashtra connection rush to defend Nitin Patel?Why Amit Shah agreed to downgrade Nitin Patel immediately after election?Shah who knows Gujarat as the back of his hand would have never done that without sufficient reason and risk calculation. The reading between the lines of these facts points to the strong possibility of dubious role of Nitin Patel in back stage manipulation of Patidar andolan whereby he sought to discredit entire BJP leadership through Patel agitation and then projecting himself to be the saviour of Gujarat BJP in a conjured up hard-fought battle. Politically immature Patels laid by Hardik have walked into the trap carefully laid by Shah by rushing to defend Nitin Patel exposing the hidden nexus between Hardik and Nitin. Patels as a community have nothing to grumble about portfolios because Finance went to Saurav Patel.
    (1)(1)
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    1. Samar Pahari
      Dec 31, 2017 at 10:57 am
      And Urban Development portfolio has not yet been given to anyone of the Ministers.A politically clever person would have lied low for the time being and avoided this trap.Nitin Patel who seems to have manipulated Patidar agitation will be the man responsible for destruction of that agitation.
      (0)(1)
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    2. gopal goshala
      Dec 31, 2017 at 9:04 am
      Congress is trying to revive the nasty old days of 'horse trading'. But having been crippled by (1) 'demonetization which has dried up all its local black cash' (2) 'War on benami property' (3) 'a strict vigilance on the movement of funds stashed abroad', Congress can hardly afford to purchase the ' able horses'
      (3)(37)
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      1. nagarnaru1
        Dec 31, 2017 at 9:16 am
        Horse trading has become too risky nowadays. 'Disqualification from Assembly' scares those who contemplate to switch to other parties. Aggravated 'Public awareness' is scaring the 'elected representatives' from indulging in any such nefarious activities. After all this, if still some MLA is ready to switch over to other parties, the price he demands will at least be 100 crores - which the Congress can ill-afford in today's condition for Congress - in view of the 3 reasons stated by you.
        (5)(10)
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        1. nagarnaru1
          Dec 31, 2017 at 9:16 am
          Horse trading has become too risky nowadays. 'Disqualification from Assembly' scares those who contemplate to switch to other parties. Aggravated 'Public awareness' is scaring the 'elected representatives' from indulging in any such nefarious activities. After all this, if still some MLA is ready to switch over to other parties, the price he demands will at least be 100 crores - which the Congress can ill-afford in today's condition for Congress - in view of the 3 reasons stated by you.
          (4)(5)
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        2. Sankaranarayanan Ramaswamy
          Dec 31, 2017 at 7:48 am
          Hardik is the Dalal for Congress and his job is recruit for his boss and to salute him everyday with some proposal or other. He wanted to show his sincerity as he could not do any thing better to congress. Now he will be the full time slave to congress. He has lost his left out self respect and started to do Dalali. Good job to Hardki, keep it up and best of luck. One day or other he will be kicked out from the Ghatbhandhan shortly. then he will be like another Aklesh.
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          1. Dmg Klburg
            Dec 31, 2017 at 7:03 am
            HICK UP IN TEA CUP, CONGRESS ITS STOOGES ARE SO DELUDED SEE TSUNAMI !
            (6)(30)
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            1. Vijai Kapoor
              Dec 31, 2017 at 6:40 am
              Hardik hardly thinks beyond Patel. Rahul Gandhi bent upon destroying Hinduism by cqste manipulations. He has the backing of OIS, ISI, China and Vatican for these anti-national acts.
              (11)(39)
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