Former Gujarat Minister and BJP leader Nalin Bhatt, who was once a close aide of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, passed away at his residence here in early hours of today after prolonged illness. He was 67. The BJP leader, who was suffering from cancer, is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. Bhatt was cremated in the evening in the presence of BJP leaders and state ministers.
Gujarat BJP president R C Faldu, Energy Minister Saurabh Patel, Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, former Ministers Jaynarayan Vyas, Kaushik Patel and a large number of party workers attended the funeral. Bhatt once worked closely with Modi to strengthen BJP in Central Gujarat. He left BJP in 2002 when he was denied Assembly election ticket. Bhatt was Education Minister in Keshubhai Patel government. He held the Health portfolio in BJP-Janata Dal coalition government headed by Chimanbhai Patel.
After resigning from BJP, Bhatt joined BSP. He later quit the Mayawati-led party and joined Gujarat Parivartan Party founded by Keshubhai Patel. He returned to BJP fold on the eve of 2012 Assembly election. Modi had visited Bhatt a couple of months ago after learning about his illness.