Nitin Patel takes charge as Gujarat deputy CM, gets finance portfolio
After holding out for two days over not getting “appropriate” portfolios, Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel assumed charge of office on Sunday after a word with BJP president Amit Shah.
He was apparently placated after Shah assured him of a new portfolio fit for his “stature as number two in the cabinet and as the deputy chief minister”. Within hours of this conversation with Shah, he was given the finance portfolio to go along with a few others he was allotted earlier.
Botad MLA Saurabh Patel was initially allotted the finance and energy portfolios. There was no official word immediately on whether Saurabh Patel would get another portfolio.
Nitin Patel had not assumed charge despite being sworn in for a second successive stint as deputy CM, along with chief minister Vijay Rupani, who also got a second successive term, on December 26.
His stance had seemingly triggered unease in the Rupani government. The Congress and Patidar leaders had used this to target the BJP on Saturday. Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel had urged the deputy CM to break from the BJP with 10 MLAs and join the Congress.
Nitin Patel had handled key portfolios such as petrochemicals, urban development and finance in the previous Rupani government. When the portfolios in the new government were announced two days ago, he got departments such as roads and buildings, Narmada, health & medical education, and capital project. The CM kept the urban development ministry this time around.
Before assuming charge, Nitin Patel told journalists in Gandhinagar, “I had communicated to the party earlier... that being a deputy CM, I should be given appropriate portfolios. I had even expressed... before party leaders that I should not be named as deputy CM if I don’t get proper portfolios.” He said the issue was not about some departments, but “self-respect”.
The deputy CM rubbished all talk of rebelling against the BJP. “I have been with BJP for 40 years and I have never and will (never) do anything that is against my party.”
A six-time MLA, Nitin Patel was first elected as MLA from Kadi in 1990. He lost an assembly election only once, in 2002.