Ahmedabad: The crisis faced by the newly formed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat over allocation of portfolios to ministers is far from over as the deputy chief minister Nitin Patel is reportedly upset with the party’s decision of not allotting “heavyweight portfolios" to him.
While Patel could not be contacted on his phone despite several attempts, rival Congress party leaders and Patidar leaders have come out in support of the deputy chief minister, asking him to leave BJP.
Patel, who was sworn-in as the deputy CM on 26 December, has not taken charge of his office so far. In the new government, he has been allotted departments like roads and buildings, Narmada, health & medical education and capital project.
According to an official close to the development, Patel is ostensibly upset because departments like urban development, petrochemicals and finance that were handled by him in the previous government, have been taken away from him in the new government.
“It is an internal matter. The BJP high command is looking very closely into the matter and will reach an amicable decision soon," said a BJP official who did not wish to be named.
Sardar Patel Group (SPG) convenor Lalji Patel on Saturday called for a bandh or shutdown in the deputy CM’s constituency of Mehsana on 1 January as a mark of protest against the “injustice" meted out to the Patidar leader by the ruling party. The SPG and Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) had jointly launched the quota stir in 2015 before parting ways.
Patel had made his displeasure known ahead of the first Cabinet meeting on 28 December to chief minister Vijay Rupani when portfolios were being decided, said the first official. As a result, the meeting was delayed by about four hours.
While the finance portfolio has been given to Botad MLA Saurabh Patel, who was earlier left out in the Rupani government last year, the urban development ministry has been kept by the CM himself this time around.
Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel urged the deputy CM to break from the BJP with 10 MLAs and join the Congress. The PAAS leader, at a meeting in Botad on Saturday, asked the deputy CM to join their fight for reservation. The 24-year-old Patel leader also said that he would soon meet Nitin Patel and discuss the matter with him.
Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said that the BJP has had a history of side-lining powerful Patidar leaders. “In the past we have seen leaders like Keshubhai Patel and Anandiben Patel being meted out similar treatment. This time around it is Nitin Patel who is being side-lined," said Doshi.