On Friday, Nitin Patel did not turn up to his office and did not even make any public appearance anywhere.
Within days of taking over, the Gujarat government faces a crisis of sorts, with Deputy Chief Minister and prominent Patidar leader Nitin Patel sulking over the allocation of portfolios to him and three powerful departments: finance, petrochemicals and urban development taken away from him.
On Friday, Mr. Patel did not turn up to his office and did not even make any public appearance anywhere. Sources in the government said he has made his displeasure known to the central leadership of the BJP regarding “light weight portfolios” given to him despite he being the deputy CM.
In the new government, he has got roads and buildings, Narmada, health, medical education and capital projects.
According to party insiders, the central leadership is sending a senior leader to mediate and end the crisis.
Meanwhile, quota agitation leader Hardik Patel invited Mr. Nitin Patel to join his stir to fight for justice to the Patidar community.
“Nitinbhai can join in our fight for justice. After all, he got only lollipops in the BJP,” the 24-year-old Mr. Hardik said in Botad where he is holding a Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) meeting to deliberate and discuss their future strategy.
Differences between Mr. Nitin Patel and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani cropped up on Thursday before the first Cabinet meeting in which ministers were supposed to be distributed the departments. Due to differences, the meeting, scheduled to start at 5 p.m., commenced only at 9 p.m. after a marathon meeting at the Chief Minister’s residence where Mr. Rupan, Mr. Nitin Patel and State party President Jitu Vaghani assigned portfolios to new ministers after consultations with the party brass in New Delhi.
“Nitinbhai is upset at not getting the Finance department,” a senior party leader said, adding, “despite being Deputy Chief Minister, he is not dealing with any important portfolios like Home, General Administration, Industries, Mines and Minerals, Finance, Urban Development or Revenue.”
After the Cabinet meeting, Mr. Rupani, Mr. Nitin Patel and Mr. Vaghani held a press conference in which Mr. Rupani ruled out any differences. Mr. Patel, however, did not talk.
“There were no differences on anything and the government will utilise Nitinbhai’s experiences and expertise,” Mr. Rupani said as Mr. Patel looked on with a sullen face.
In the new government, Mr. Rupani has kept home, general administration, industrial and mines and minerals and urban development and petrochemical departments with himself.
Saurabh Patel, who was dropped from the Cabinet when Mr. Rupani took over as Chief Minister in 2016 after a series of allegations of irregularities and nepotism against him, has been rehabilitated now. He has been given Finance and Energy.