A disenchanted former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel feels that his successor, Narendra Modi, has successfully “terrorised” the entire BJP high command.
Saddened by the BJP national executive meeting in Mumbai demonstrating the party's dependence on Mr. Modi, Mr. Patel confided in some of his confidants that the high command itself was scared of the Chief Minister.
Charging that from the “Patels” to “the people of Gujarat” all have been terrorised by Mr. Modi, he has now stepped up his anti-Modi campaign. Sidelined in Gujarat, he see little role for himself in the party but believes that he could become the rallying point for the anti-Modi forces before the Assembly elections due later this year.
State Congress president Arjun Modhvadia, and his Mahagujarat Janata Party counterpart, Gordhan Jhadafiya, a former Minister in the Modi Cabinet, also criticised the BJP brass for “bending its knees” before Mr. Modi. Mr. Modhvadia said this showed that the party gave primacy to fund-raisers rather than those who helped build the party in the State.
It was no wonder that leaders like Mr. Patel, another former chief minister Suresh Mehta, and the former union minister Kashiram Rana who stood for the party ideology, were now virtually out of the party because of the high command's weak-kneed politics, Mr. Modhvadia and Mr. Jhadafiya said.
Meanwhile, after its grand success in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party is planning to jump into the Gujarat election arena in a big way this time. State president Surendra Yadav said the SP would initiate its election campaign with a meeting of the party workers on June 7 to be addressed by its national president Mulayam Singh.
The SP had contested some seats in the previous Assembly elections also but without much success, but is hopeful of making its presence felt in 2012, because of the disenchantment with the Congress and the anti-incumbency factor going against the BJP. Both the BJP and the Congress claim that in Gujarat, where the two-party system has come to stay, the SP or any other party would have no role to play. However, the BJP sources said the ruling party would be happy if the SP joined the fray as it was likely to take away a sizeable chunk of the minority votes from the Congress, making things easier for the BJP.