A day after Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel took to Twitter to clarify that he was not quitting the government, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Hardik Patel claimed on Friday that he was confident that Nitin Patel will leave the government. Hardik, who is scheduled to hold a Maha Panchayat of Patidars at Moti Malvan of Dhrangadhra in Surendranagar district on Saturday, said, “There is a group within the BJP which is campaigning against Nitinbhai to force him to resign…I bet and can tell you with confidence that Nitinbhai will soon be standing with us.”
On Friday, Gujarat BJP and Nitin Patel remained in a clarification mode on the reports doing rounds on social media that the Deputy CM would quit the party along with many sitting MLAs and join Hardik. The unconfirmed reports also stated that BJP national president Amit Shah had asked Nitin Patel to resign.
The rumours continued to spread on Friday and the Deputy CM refuted them again. Reacting to reports on him joining Hardik’s Maha Panchayat, Nitin Patel said, “We don’t have anything to do with it (the panchayat). He (Hardik) was a man who tried to defeat the BJP’s Patel candidates. He is working on the Congress agenda.” He said that if fake posts continued to appear on social media, he would take legal action against the those spreading them.
Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani also issued a clarification on the issue and said that certain people were spreading canards with specific purpose. “All these talks are only rumours. Nitinbhai Patel is a senior leader of the BJP and he has been doing people-oriented works as Deputy CM. All MLAs of BJP are with the party…,” Vaghani said in a statement.
Opposition Congress said Nitin Patel has not been valued by his party. “Patel has not been rewarded properly for the hard work that he is doing for the BJP,” Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda was quoted as saying by PTI.
Hardik has openly given a call to Nitin Patel to join him at the Maha Panchayat on Saturday. Speaking with mediapersons in Saurashtra, he said, “Nitin Patel won from Mehsana amid lots of opposition. And after that he was given the lollipop of post of Deputy CM…And it has been the history of BJP that all those who speak up get finished whether it is Keshubhai (Patel) or Gordhan Zadaphia or Pravinbhai Togadia or Nitinbhai Patel…I welcome Nitinbhai in the Maha Panchayat.”
Hardik said 16 Patidar MLAs from Congress were going to attend the Maha Panchayat. He also claimed that four Patidar leaders from BJP were also thinking of joining it. He also claimed that Nitin Patel will have to join him since he will be removed from Rupani cabinet by Shah when the latter comes to Gujarat in a day or two. BJP, however, rejected the claims stating that Shah was not coming to Gujarat this week.