Amid political drama in Gujarat which has begun right after the new government took the charge, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor Hardik Patel has invited deputy chief minister Nitin Patel to join him.
Hardik Patel has said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not giving respect to "his veteran leader and everyone should stand with him".
"I and my supporters are prepared to talk to the Congress leadership to welcome Nitin Patel in the party if he and 10 other MLAs are willing to resign and come," Hardik Patel told reporters in Ahmedabad.
"If the BJP can't take care of a senior leader like Nitin Patel who has spent many years in building the party, and must be respected, if they can't, Nitin Patel should leave the party," the firebrand leader, whose reservation movement caused a major dent in the ruling party's electoral prospects in the just concluded assembly elections, said.
He claimed he was willing to recommend to the Congress leadership to "accommodate Nitinbhai in a senior position" in the party and that he should come with "at least 10 MLAs".
The Patidar leader also exhorted BJP's Patel leaders to back the Deputy Chief Minister.
"If the BJP is not respecting Patels, then they should leave the party and should accompany Nitin Patel," Hardik Patel said.
Hardik’s statement comes after PTI quoted a BJP source as saying that even after being sworn into office, Nitin Patel is yet to take charge of the portfolios allotted to him and has conveyed his displeasure to the party leadership. In the previous government, the deputy chief minister was in charge of important portfolios such as finance and urban development.
However, this time he has been allotted departments like road and building, and health. Apart from these two, he has also been given the charge of medical education, Narmada, Kalpsar and capital project after the portfolios were allotted on December 28.
According to IANS, not only did Nitin keep away from the office for most of Friday, Secretariat reports also claimed that the veteran politician used his personal four-wheeler instead of the government vehicle and official escort.
The deputy chief minister looked glum and lost even during the first joint press conference of the new Cabinet late on Thursday night and maintained an uncanny silence.
Nitin Patel, who first became the state's health minister back in 1995, was upgraded as a Deputy Chief Minister in 2016 when the BJP decided to drop Anandiben Patel as Chief Minister. The upgrade was meant to signal that the Patel community would continue to get a good deal from the BJP.