As Gujarat prepares for a new Chief Minister and cabinet, former Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who was reportedly expecting the top job, has kept up a riveting sideshow with his comments ranging from defiance and denial to grudging acceptance.
Nitin Patel’s name had been circulating as a candidate to replace Vijay Rupani, who resigned as Gujarat Chief Minister on Saturday in an unexpected BJP move. Nitin Patel, who belongs to the powerful Patidar community, had even dropped heavy hints. But another Patel — Bhupendra Patel — emerged as the party’s choice.
“I’m not upset,” Nitin Patel told news agency ANI, asked about Bhupendra Patel besting him.
This is not his first disappointment.
On Sunday, as the BJP’s choice became official, Nitin Patel remarked at a function he was not the only one to “miss the bus” and there were “many others like him”.
He also declared that he had seen many ups and downs and nobody could throw him out as he lived in people’s hearts.
“I am not bothered about speculation. Bhupendrabhai 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” Mr Patel told a gathering at Mehsana.
Mr Patel had made his expectations clear when he said before the legislature party meeting that the new Chief Minister had to be “popular, strong, experienced, and the one who is known and acceptable to all”.
That person turned out to be Bhupendra Patel for the party.
Mr Patel reportedly left the meeting early and was also not present when outgoing Chief Minister Vijay Rupani went with his successor to the Governor’s house.
“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,” Mr Patel told reporters.
Asked why he left the legislators’ meeting early, he said: “People indulge in wrong speculation. I had to attend this programme. I would have myself given it a pass if it was not of that much importance.”
Mr Patel said he had received threats for his recent comment that the Constitution and secularism will last as long as Hindus are in majority. “I never say anything which can be discarded easily. I have always worked as a shield to protect the government, officers, Chief Minister and state BJP chief. I endured all the attacks but never hit back. I say what is right, even if many people do not like it” he said.