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Bypassed for Gujarat CM chair, Nitin Patel says live in ‘voters’ hearts’, can’t be thrown out

Nitin, who was also given a miss in 2016 when Rupani, another first-time MLA, was chosen to replace then CM Anandiben Patel, said he is not the only one to miss the bus this time.

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Ahmedabad: Hours after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership chose first-time MLA Bhupendra Patel as the new Gujarat chief minister, Deputy CM Nitin Patel expressed his displeasure at a public event as he lost out the CM race once again.

On Sunday, soon after the BJP legislature party meeting in Gandhinagar, where Patel was chosen as the CM, Nitin left for his constituency, Mehsana, to attend a function after inaugurating a road.

Speaking at the event, the powerful Patel leader said that nobody can “throw him out” as he lives in people’s hearts. He called the new CM as “our own”, but quipped that not just him but many others missed the bus this time.

“There were many things running on TV when I was coming here. I want to tell you that till I am in the hearts of my people, voters and party workers, no one can throw me out. I was in opposition (during Congress rule) for a considerable time in the past,” said the leader who was first elected as MLA in 1990 and was a top contender for the CM post after Vijay Rupani’s exit Saturday.

“I am not bothered about speculations. Bhupendra bhai is our own. He invited me to inaugurate his office as an MLA. He is my friend. I don’t care what people say or think. But, I am not in danger. Why? Because of you. I owe my existence to you,” he said at the event.

Nitin, who was also given a miss in 2016 when Rupani, another first-time MLA, was chosen to replace then CM Anandiben Patel, said he is not the only one to miss the bus this time. “There were many others who also missed the bus. I was not the only one. So do not look at this development in that way. It’s the party which makes decisions. People make wrong speculations,” he said.

On Sunday, Nitin left the BJP’s Gandhinagar office after taking permission from the party’s Gujarat in-charge Bhupender Yadav. He wasn’t there when Bhupendra Patel met Governor Acharya Devvrat to stake claim to form the government.

“I told Yadav ji that I have to attend this programme. I would have myself given it a pass if it was not of that much importance. But since it was very important, even Yadav ji gave his consent,” Patel said. 

Early Monday, hours after these statements by the Patel leader, the new CM-designate reached Nitin Patel’s house to placate him.

Also read: New Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel is engineer, builder, Dada Bhagwan devotee who ‘has no enemies’

Deputy CM post also gone?

If losing out on the CM chair was bad enough, there is also speculation that Nitin Patel might have to give up his deputy CM post too.

According to sources in the BJP, since the party has chosen CM from the Patel community, the deputy CM post can’t remain with the same caste. It could be distributed among other castes like Thakores, tribals and Dalits.

BJP sources said there is a chance that Nitin could be axed from the post. “Although it will not go down well in the Patel community, but since BJP has chosen chief minister from among the Patels, the party can take this risk by dropping a senior minister,” said a source.

In 2016, when Anandiben Patel resigned as the CM, Nitin was the frontrunner to replace her. However, then party president Amit Shah, a former cabinet colleague to Nitin, chose Vijay Rupani to lead the state. Huge drama ensued between Shah and Nitin as he insisted that the most-senior MLA should be appointed. Moreover, he argued that Rupani lacked administrative experience. But he lost the battle.

After the government was re-elected in 2017, Nitin openly expressed his displeasure on portfolio allocation and refused to take charge until he was given the finance department. Shah relented and accepted his demand later.

But this time, the call was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A BJP vice-president said on condition of anonymity, “Nitin Patel knows this was his last time and now he can only save his portfolio. Last time Amit Shah didn’t relent to his opposition (of Rupani). This time, the PM has taken a call (Bhupendra Patel as CM). And at election time, the PM’s priority will be to take everyone along in the team.”

-With inputs from PTI.

Also read: New Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel is BJP’s olive branch to Patidars, Anandiben Patel convinced PM


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