Nitin Patel Gets Finance Ministry Portfolio Post Shah’s Assurance
Amit Shah caves, hands over the Gujarat finance ministry to Nitin Patel.
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel took charge of the finance ministry on 31 December, hours after BJP chief Amit Shah assured him that he would be alloted a suitable portfolio.
BJP president Amit Shah called up in the morning and assured me that I will be given a portfolio which befits my stature as the number two in the cabinet and as the deputy chief minister. Shah asked me to take charge of my departments, so I will take charge today.Nitin Patel, Gujarat Deputy CM
“Chief Minister Vijay Rupani will meet Governor OP Kohli in the afternoon and give him a letter, informing him of the allocation of a new department to me,” he told reporters.
“We have made certain changes in the portfolios. We have given finance to Nitinbhai. With this, the issue is over now. Such small things happen in a big family like the BJP. I have already sent a letter to the Governor, informing him of this change in the portfolios,” Rupani announced in Gandhinagar that the finance portfolio had been given to Patel.
Why Was Nitin Patel Upset?
Nitin Patel, who was stripped of key portfolios in the newly formed government, had reportedly conveyed his discontent with the BJP leadership. He had also threatened to resign, if his earlier portfolios were not reinstated. While his other colleagues took charge on 29 December, Patel had made his discomfort conspicuous by not going to his office.
On 30 December, Patel told reporters: “This is about my prestige, and not a post. I will be talking to the high command, and I am assured that the party will solve the problem,” he said.
"I had conveyed to the party high-command to either give me respectable departments or relieve me from the cabinet," he said. The veteran leader added that he had been serving the BJP as a "loyal and disciplined" soldier for the last 40 years.
In the previous government, Nitin was in charge of prominent departments such as Finance, Petrochemicals, Urban Development and Urban Housing, Roads and Buildings.
In the new government, although given the post of deputy chief minister, Nitin was stripped of three key portfolios – Finance, Urban Development and Petroleum. While Chief Minister Rupani took over departments of Urban Development and Petroleum, Department of Finance was given to Saurabh Patel.
According to reports, Nitin Patel was not only upset about losing three of his major portfolios, but also uncomfortable with the finance portfolio – considered to be the second highest portfolio in the government – being given to Saurabh Patel.
Flurry Over Resignation Rumours
Hardik Patel invited him to join the Congress; sources claim that 19 BJP MLAs came forward in support of Nitin Patel after the offer was made.
Senior Congress MLA Virji Thummar was quoted as saying that Nitin Patel would be made the chief minister with the Congress’ support if he quit the saffron party.
The Congress, however, had clarified that Thummar was speaking in his personal capacity and described the row over portfolio distribution as an "internal matter" of the BJP.
Earlier on Saturday, senior Gujarat BJP leader Narottam Patel, who visited Nitin Patel at his residence, rubbished the rumours of his resignation.
(With inputs from Rahul Nair, ANI, PTI)
(This is a developing story and will be updated)
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