Manas Dasgupta

Keshubhai offered chairmanship of election panel

Modi should not be automatic choice for CM: Keshubhai

GANDHINAGAR: Yet another effort by the Bharatiya Janata Party high command to break the deadlock in the Gujarat BJP Legislature Party seems to have gone in vain with dissidents led by the former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel refusing to accept the leadership of Narendra Modi in the coming Assembly elections.

On Monday, the high command’s emissary and election in-charge in the State, failed to convince Mr. Patel and other senior dissident leaders to agree to project Mr. Modi as the party’s nominee for Chief Minister.

As the high command has already accepted Mr. Modi’s re-nomination in the event of a BJP victory, Mr. Jaitley had little to offer to the dissidents by way of bargain.

Adding fuel to the fire was a poster depicting Mr. Modi as “Lord Krishna” fighting a “holy war” against the “Kauravas” (Mr. Patel and the dissidents).

Though Mr. Jaitley denied that the poster could be the handiwork of any BJP worker, it was handed over to Mr. Modi during a party gathering on the occasion of the birthday of his close aide and Energy Minister Saurabh Patel in his constituency Vallabhipur in Bhavnagar district last week.

Mr. Modi and Mr. Saurabh Patel accepted the poster without a murmur of protest and even allowed photographers to take pictures of it.

The issue figured prominently at Mr. Jaitley’s meeting with Mr. Keshubhai Patel here.

Mr. Jaitley is believed to have offered Mr. Patel chairmanship of the party’s election committee having considerable say in the selection of candidates and other poll-related issues.

He also promised to pursue with the high command withdrawal of the suspension of all dissidents and to allow on merit re-nomination. But Mr. Patel insisted that Mr. Modi be not considered the automatic choice for Chief Minister. To Mr. Jaitley’s argument that the high command’s announcement on the chief ministerial nominee could not be reversed at this stage, Mr. Patel reportedly said: “You save either an individual or the party.”