Gandhinagar: After Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel created a stir over allocation of portfolios not befitting his status, Gujarat Koli community veteran Parshottam Solanki on Tuesday threw a tantrum asking Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to give him "better", "more than one" and a Cabinet status after winning five terms in a row.
Solanki, once accused by the Srikrishna Commission in connection with the 1993 Mumbai communal riots, also held out a veiled threat that his Koli community would "demonstrate this during the 2019 Lok Sabha election whom they support and who they won't".
The minister, who represents the Koli community that has a whopping 26 per cent population concentrated in the key Saurashtra region, called on Rupani and told him that it was a sentiment of his community to have a better say for him in the government.
"I came to meet the Chief Minister but got stuck in bad traffic and his chamber was choc-a-bloc with people and we could not have a detailed chat. He said a decision about this could be taken after three days," Solanki told reporters at the Sachivalaya in Gandhinagar.
"I am not asking for anything, it is my community that is asserting and feels that I, since I am the only one in the government, be given a respectable due.
"The Chief Minister himself keeps 12 portfolios, some first-time ministers have three to four good portfolios, but I have only one and that too a negligible one," the Minister of State for Fisheries said.
Solanki was elected from the Bhavnagar Rural Assembly seat for the fifth time in a row, thanks largely to his Koli community. The Kolis form 26 per cent of the population in Gujarat and have strong presence in over 40 assembly seats.
Meanwhile, the BJP high command galvanised into damage control and drafted senior minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama (who had also played a key role in resolving the Nitin Patel issue) to assuage Solanki.
Chudasama told reporters, flanked by Solanki: "He is not angry with the party. He is a senior leader and has only expressed his community's sentiments to the Chief Minister. This does not tantamout to mean that he is angry or there is some crisis in the party.
"Please don't compare (him with) Nitin Patel. It was a different issue which has been already sorted out."
Solanki went on, in front of Chudasama: "I have been given a single department of Fisheries unlike the last four times when I was also given Animal Husbandry. Looking at the population of Kolis across the state, what do I do with one ministry. I obviously don't feel going to office.
"The people of my community want the government to do something about it. I should be given other portfolios too," he said.