The interaction of radio frequency waves with charged particles in a magnetized plasma is usually described by the quasilinear operator that was originally formulated by Kennel & Engelmann (Phys. Fluids, vol. 9, 1966, pp. 2377–2388). In their formulation the plasma is assumed to be homogenous and embedded in a uniform magnetic field. In tokamak plasmas the Kennel–Engelmann operator does not capture the magnetic drifts of the particles that are inherent to the non-uniform magnetic field. To overcome this deficiency a combined drift and gyrokinetic derivation is employed to derive the quasilinear operator for radio frequency heating and current drive in a tokamak with magnetic drifts retained. The derivation requires retaining the magnetic moment to higher order in both the unperturbed and perturbed kinetic equations. The formal prescription for determining the perturbed distribution function then follows a novel procedure in which two non-resonant terms must be evaluated explicitly. The systematic analysis leads to a diffusion equation that is compact and completely expressed in terms of the drift kinetic variables. The equation is not transit averaged, and satisfies the entropy principle, while retaining the full poloidal angle variation without resorting to Fourier decomposition. As the diffusion equation is in physical variables, it can be implemented in any computational code. In the Kennel–Engelmann formalism, the wave–particle resonant delta function is either for the Landau resonance or the Doppler shifted cyclotron resonance. In the combined gyro and drift kinetic approach, a term related to the magnetic drift modifies the resonance condition.