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Nitin Patel gets Finance, crisis blows over

The 48-hour-long drama that kept BJP’s Gujarat political circle on tenterhooks ended on Sunday, with party chief Amit Shah granting deputy chief minister Nitin Patel the Finance portfolio, following which the veteran leader took charge.Patel, who was given Road and Building, Health, Medical Education, Narmada, Kalpsar and Capital Project during the portfolio allocation on Thursday night, stayed home and refused to take charge, making his displeasure over taking away important portfolios that he had held in the previous government evident.Addressing the media at his residence in Thaltej, Ahmedabad, around 10:45 am, Patel said, “BJP president Amit Shah called me 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.””I have no more complaints. I was not happy as I didn’t get a befitting portfolio, but I never crossed the party’s line of discipline,” he added.The deputy CM thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah, the Patel community and other leaders who stood by him. He also acknowledged the Sardar Patel Group, an outfit of the Patel community seeking reservation.Though it was a Sunday, Patel rushed to Gandhinagar and assumed charge at 11:39am.With the new allocation, Saurabh Patel, who was orginally given Finance, is now left with just one ministry — Energy.Soon after taking charge, Patel left for his Assembly constituency, Mehsana, to meet his supporters.Shortly after his arrival at Mehsana in the afternoon, Rupani announced in Gandhinagar that the Finance portfolio had been given to Patel and that the issue was over now.”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,” the chief minister told reporters.Patel maintained that the issue was not about some departments, but about “self-respect”.”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.The deputy chief minister performed puja at his office and assumed charge. “I will perform all my duties with integrity and honesty. I thank my party for the responsibility they have given me. I had assumed office soon after the swearing-in ceremony and had reviewed the process of purchase of groundnuts by government from farmers at minimum support price. From Monday, the first day of the New Year, the Gujarat government will work on fast track.”In the previous government headed by Rupani, Patel used to handle key portfolios of Finance and Urban Development, among other departments.However, this time, Finance was given to Saurabh Patel, while Rupani kept Urban Development with himself. Unhappy over the allotment, Patel had refrained from taking charge of the departments, prompting the top BJP leadership to swing into action to placate the senior Patidar leader.Sending feelers to the deputy chief minister, Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel on Saturday said he would extend support to him and talk to the Congress leadership to ensure that Patel got the respect he deserved from the party, if he left the BJP, along with 10 other MLAs, and joined hands with the Congress to form a new government.DISPLEASURENitin Patel, who was given Road and Building, Health, Medical Education, Narmada, Kalpsar and Capital Project refused to take charge, making his displeasure over taking away important portfolios evident.

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