Setback for BJP as Keshubhai quits
Modiís arch rival to float a new party
Former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel resigned from the BJP on Saturday, pulling the curtains down on his six-decade long stint at the party.
Former Union minister Kanshiram Rana too quit the party along with Patel. Patel, who was unceremoniously replaced by Narendra Modi as the chief minister in 2001, is all set to launch a party of his own, a move which might spell trouble for the BJP, with the Assembly elections round the corner. He is likely to announce the launch of a new political party on Sunday.
In his seven-page resignation letter to BJP president Nitin Gadkari, Patel wrote he quit with a “heavy heart”. “I had to take this decision because this is not the real party for which we had toiled for years. We will now launch the real BJP,’’ he told media persons.
Ever since he made a comeback to the political arena in the beginning of the year, Patel has been spearheading the attack on Narendra Modi’s “misrule” of Gujarat. He also communicated his grievances to the party high command in Delhi.
Scripting success story
Credited with scripting BJP’s success story in Gujarat, Patel successfully mobilised the influential Patel community following Congress leader Madhavsinh Solanki’s KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, Muslim) theory in mid-1980s. Even as his ouster as the chief minister did not go down well with the Patel community, the veteran leader decided to adhere to the party diktat. He slipped into oblivion, only to resurface ahead of the 2007 Assembly elections, to support Modi’s rival Gordhan Zadafiya.
With the recent criticism of Modi, Patel, much to the chagrin of the BJP, has succeeded in mobilising his community once again. The BJP, in an editorial in party mouthpiece “Manogat” recently, even urged him to refrain from indulging in such anti-party activities.
Observers say even if the outfit to be launched by Patel fails to win a considerable number of seats, it will definitely carve a dent in BJP’s vote bank, especially in the Saurashtra region. It is believed that the Maha Gujarat Janata Party, headed by Zadafiya, will merge with Patel’s party.
The new force does not augur well for BJP as both Patel and Zadafiya, stalwarts of the Patel community, are capable of swaying the community against the incumbent chief minister. Zadafiya has been working at the grassroot level in the Saurashtra region for over half a decade now.