Veteran leader Keshubhai Patel on Wednesday announced that he would quit active politics and wished that the Gujarat Parivartan Party floated by him against Narendra Modi should merge with the BJP.
86-year-old Patel, who was on a day—long visit to his constituency Visavadar—Bhesan in Junagadh district to meet his supporters, informed them about his decision to quit active politics.
“I am going to resign as an MLA because of my growing age and ill health,” Patel told his supporters.
The statement of Mr. Patel ahead of the Lok Sabha elections will come as a boost for Modi’s BJP and help in its plan to win maximum number of seats from the state.
“I have yet not decided to join any political party but I feel that the GPP should be merged in a national party other than the Congress,” Mr. Patel said, indicating that he wanted to merge his party with the BJP.
Mr. Patel had formed the GPP in September 2012, before the Gujarat Assembly elections in December the same year. His party had faired poorly in the elections as only two of its candidates won out of the total 182 seats. Last month, Mr. Patel had stepped down from the position of GPP president after his son Bharat joined BJP.
“I will tender my resignation from the post of MLA to the Assembly Speaker when the session begins,” the six—time legislator said.
The state Assembly session begins from February 20.
When asked about his son’s plan to contest the Assembly election from Visavadar—Bhesan constituency, which is likely to fall vacant after his resignation, Mr. Patel said “as a father I will extend my full support to Bharat.”
The announcement to quit active politics by Mr Patel, who became the chief minister of Gujarat for the first time in 1995 from BJP, might be the end of his five—and—half decade old political career. He was unceremoniously removed from the CM’s post in 2001 by the BJP leadership and Modi was installed in his place.
He had been nursing a grudge against BJP leadership since 2001 which culminated in his forming a political party.
Mr. Patel, who started his political career as a worker for Jansangh in 1960, was also a founder member of BJP and became a pillar of the party in its rise in Gujarat.