Amid reports of cracks in the newly-formed Gujarat government, Sardar Patel Group (SPG) chief Lalji Patel has demanded that he should "be announced as the chief minister of Gujarat," India Today reported on Saturday. His comments have come on the same day as Hardik Patel urged the deputy chief minister to leave the state government and join hands with him.
Make Nitin Patel Gujarat CM: Lalji Patel, Patidar leader
— IndiaTodayFLASH (@IndiaTodayFLASH) December 30, 2017
Earlier on Saturday, Lalji had met Nitin at his residence in Ahmedabad on Saturday. He hailed Nitin Patel for being "a dedicated worker of the BJP", India Today further reported. According to Tv9 Gujarati, the SPG chief claimed that the entire Patidar community was with Nitin.
Lalji criticised the BJP high command for "doing injustice" with Nitin and announced a bandh in Mehsana, Nitin's consituency, on Monday to further push the demand. He also threatened to call for a state-wide bandh if Nitin Patel was not made the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
"People of Gujarat and former chief minister Anandiben Patel wanted Nitin to be made the chief minister (when Anandiben resigned). He was not made the chief minister but he accepted the decision and decided to work as deputy chief minister. People are angry with the latest development. Nitin-bhai is the right candidate for chief minister's post," Lalji said.
He further said: "We met Nitin-bhai...We asked him what is needed to be done. It is now for him to take the final call. He said the party's high command has said it will decide the matter in two days." Ketan Patel, a Patidar leader who left the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) to join the BJP, also met the deputy chief minister.
"Nitin Patel has worked tirelessly to mollify the agitated Patidar community and played important role in bringing the party back to power. The BJP high command should address his concerns positively," he said, adding that the BJP should ensure that political opponents do not take advantage of the development.
Earlier on Saturday, Hardik Patel had urged Nitin to leave the government and join hands with him. Hardik claimed that he would hold talks with the Congress to get Nitin a good position. "If Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin along with 10 MLAs is ready to leave BJP, then I will talk to Congress and get him a good position," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Nitin, who was inducted into the cabinet along with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday, is yet to take charge of the portfolios allotted to him.
In the previous government, Nitin handled key portfolios like finance and urban development. However this time, he has been alloted charge of departments like road and building, and health.
Apart from these two, he has also given the charge of medical education, Narmada, Kalpsar and capital project after the portfolios were allotted on 28 December.
This time, the finance portfolio was allotted to Saurabh Patel, while Rupani has kept the charge of urban development department with himself.
According to News18, Nitin has given an ultimatum to the party high command by threatening to quit if the three portfolios were not given back to him.
After allocation of portfolios on Thursday, Nitin had avoided speaking at the media briefing and left the venue in a hurry. At that time, Rupani had said: "It is not true that the minister who has finance portfolio is number two in the cabinet. Nitin is our senior leader and will remain number two."
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Dec 30, 2017 19:33:36 IST