After sulking for two days and triggering protests from the Patels, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Sunday joined Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s cabinet saying BJP President Amit Shah had pledged to restore the key portfolios taken away from him.
Patel assumed charge as a cabinet minister in Gandhinagar, shortly after Shah made the promise to the seven-time MLA who revolted after the portfolios of Finance, Petrochemicals and Urban Development were snatched from him and he was given ministries of lesser importance, including Health and Family Welfare.
The move by the Bharatiya Janata Party triggered widespread protests in the Patel community, with Patidar leader Hardik Patel urging Nitin Patel to quit the BJP and join the Congress. The minister admitted that his self-respect had been hurt.
On Sunday, Nitin Patel told the media that Shah had promised he would get the portfolios commensurate with his stature. Rupani will submit the list of portfolios to the Governor later Sunday.
“I was assured by Amit Shah of providing me the charge of departments which deserved my stature,” he said.
“I request my supporters to withdraw the ‘bandh’ announcement for Monday, called in support of my demands. Rupani will shortly send a formal request to the Governor about the portfolios to be provided to me,” he added.
After being denied important portfolios which he held until the Assembly elections, Nitin Patel did not take charge of his office on Wednesday.
The BJP allotted the Finance department to former Finance Minister Saurabh Patel (Dalal) while the other two departments were given to the Chief Minister.
A majority of the Patidar community, including BJP supporters, were agitated against the move to strip Nitin Patel of important portfolios. They even demanded that Nitin Patel be made the Chief Minister.
The Sardar Patel Group, which had spearheaded the Patidar agitation along with the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) led by Hardik Patel, also supported Nitin Patel and called for a statewide ‘bandh’ on Monday.
Finance Minister Saurabh Patel, who is expected to lose the portfolio, said: “I respect the decision taken by the party high command.”