Firebrand Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Saturday invited Gujarat deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, allegedly miffed with the BJP, to join the Congress along with 10 MLAs to topple the government in the state.
Talking to the media in Gujarat’s Sarangpur, Hardik said: “If he (Nitin Patel) along with 10 MLAs is ready to leave BJP, then (I) will talk to Congress to get him a good position.”
“If BJP does not respect him, he should leave the party,” he added.
Hardik’s statement comes in the wake of reports that Nitin Patel was agitated with the top leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as he was given “light-weight” portfolios in the new BJP government in Gujarat.
He remained absent from his office on Friday even as all the newly-anointed Cabinet colleagues took charge of their respective ministries allotted to them by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
Although, BJP returned to power in the state for a sixth time, the number of seats reduced to 99, just seven more than the magical figure of 92, needed to form the government.
Congress which managed to win 80 seats, needs 12 more to stake claim to form government.
Hardik-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) had joined hands with the Congress ahead of Gujarat Assembly polls after the party accepted the demand for quotas in jobs and education for Patels.
However, Hardik had sternly said that his goal was to defeat the BJP and not let it return to power in the state.
The controversy comes even before the first session of the newly-elected 14th Vidhan Sabha begins early next year and is sure to rattle top leadership including BJP chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi who are busy strategising for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.