GANDHINAGAR: Hardik Patel, the Patidar leader who had fiercely campaigned against the BJP in the Gujarat elections, today attempted to exacerbate the birth pangs of the state’s new government led Chief Minister Vijay Rupani who is struggling with a sulking deputy, Nitin Patel.
The 61-year-old Deputy Chief Minister is learnt to be feeling slighted at his boss taking away key portfolios such as finance and urban development, and replacing them with health and education, among others.
Nitin Patel hasn’t spoken about his disappointment in public but he is learnt to have dropped clear hints to his close supporters that he might contemplate quitting the government too.
On Saturday, Hardik Patel waded right in the middle of the political drama playing out in Gujarat around Nitin Patel.
“If the BJP does not respect him, he should leave the party,” the 24-year-old face of the Patidar campaign for quotas in jobs and education told reporters, according to news agency ANI.
Hardik Patel also offered to get the Deputy Chief Minister a good deal from the Congress. But this offer came with a rider.
“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,” Hardik said, an offer that is seen as an attempt to emphasise that the BJP did not give its most prominent Patel face a fair deal either.
Nitin Patel, who first became the state’s health minister back in 1995, was upgraded as a Deputy Chief Minister in 2016 when the BJP decided to drop Anandiben Patel as Chief Minister. The upgrade was meant to signal that the Patel community would continue to get a good deal from the BJP.