AHMEDABAD: For Gujarat's new Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Ratilal Patel, who lost the top job to Vijay Rupani at the last moment, the challenge will be to placate his own Patidar community ahead of next year's elections.
Patel, 60, belongs to Kadva Patidar community, which has rallied under its young leader Hardik Patel demanding the OBC quota.
Nitin Patel was number two in the cabinets of both former Chief Ministers Narendra Modi and Anandiben Patel.
Considered to be the most prominent Patel leader after Anandiben in the cabinet, it was Nitin Patel who was the main negotiator from Government's side with Patidar leaders during the fierce agitation of the community for OBC quota last year.
He may be disappointed after losing out on CM's post, but political pundits say he has the capacity to take all sides along, unlike Anandiben, who was seen as stubborn.
A five-time MLA, Nitin Patel has handled various portfolios including finance and revenue in the last 20 years.
During the quota agitation, he faced the ire of his own community as his home and office were attacked. However, afterwards he tried to win the community over back. Hailing from Kadi in Mehasana district which is also the home district of Prime Minister Modi, Patel reportedly had the backing of Anandiben Patel, but finally it was Rupani, a Jain, who was chosen by BJP to be the Chief Minister.
Patel, who has studied upto second year B.Com, has family business of edible oil and cotton ginning.