Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel on Saturday invited Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel to join him, The Times of India reported. Hardik Patel said that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was “not giving respect to the veteran leader [Nitin Patel] and everyone should stand with him”.

The Gujarat deputy chief minister was stripped of the finance, urban development and petroleum portfolios when the new state cabinet took oath on December 26. Subsequently, he did not assume office at the secretariat in Gandhinagar on Friday even after many ministers took charge.

“Nitin Patel can join us if the BJP is not giving him respect,” Hardik Patel told the media in Botad district of Gujarat, where Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leaders were holding a meeting to discuss the outcome of the Assembly elections. “He has worked hard for the party.

“If he [Nitin Patel] is ready to quit the BJP and if he says that 10 MLAs are ready to quit the party with him, then we are ready to support him,” the Patidar leader added. “I will talk to the Congress to welcome him and to give him a proper post.”

The Congress alliance won 80 seats in the Gujarat Assembly elections, while the BJP won 100 with the support of one Independent candidate. The majority mark in the state legislature is 92.