Gandhinagar: A Congress MLA on Monday caused a sensation in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly by offering the post of Chief Minister to incumbent deputy CM and senior BJP leader Nitin Patel if the latter is willing to join the opposition party with more than 20 MLAs.
The MLA Virji Thummar, who represents Lathi seat, clarified that he was making the "offer" to Patel in his personal capacity.
Referring to Patel's statement last week that he was "fighting alone", Thummar said, "I told Nitinbhai in the House that he is not alone. The Congress is with him. If he feels alone in the BJP, he can cross over with more than 20 MLAs and he can be made the chief minister (with the support of the Congress)".
Patel was present in the House when Thummar spoke, but didn't react.
Thummar later told reporters that he had made this offer to Patel in his personal capacity. "If he (Patel) joins us, I will convince my party to make him the chief minister," Thummar said, adding that Patel would have to accept the ideology of the Congress if he wanted to make a shift.
In the 182-member House, the ruling BJP has 103 MLAs and the Congress 73.
Vijay Rupani is the incumbent chief minister of the state.
Meanwhile, the BJP termed Thummar's offer as a "mischief". "They (the Congress) misinterpreted Patel's statement and are now trying to mislead the people of the state," said Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani.
He said the Congress was playing mischief by making such statements, as they are out of power for the last 27 years and are desperate to make a comeback. "Patel is a senior leader who does not require suggestions from the Congress party," Vaghani added.
Speaking at a function to lay the foundation stone for a temple last Saturday, Patel said, "all others are on one side while I am on the one side who is fighting alone".
After the 2017 Assembly elections, Patel was in the race to become the next chief minister, but the BJP brass retained Rupani.