Keshubhai consolidating Modi rebels
The Patel factor is making the electoral battle in Gujarat more interesting this time. If former deputy chief minister Narhari Amin’s joining the BJP could mar the Congress’ prospects, Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) is consolidating anti-Narendra Modi groups within the BJP and outside. Both, Mr Amin and Mr Patel are the prominent Patel leaders.
The Congress and the BJP are lacking killer instinct in this election because of growing dissension against chief minister Narendra Modi and the state and Central leaders of the Congress. Mr Amin, the former deputy chief minister who recently quit the Congress after being denied ticket to contest the Assembly elections, on Thursday joined the BJP.
Mr Amin’s entry into the BJP is expected to boost its prospects in the Saurashtra region where former chief minister Keshubhai Patel’s newly-launched GPP is putting a stiff challenge to the chief minister Narendra Modi.
According to the Congress sources, the GPP would damage the BJP more and the Congress to “some extent”. A senior Congress leader said the BJP’s numbers would go down this time because Mr Modi is facing the incumbency factor and dissension within his own party.
The BJP could win between 95 and 105 seats as of today, he said. But the Gujarat Congress leaders are blaming the PCC chief Arjun Modhwadia and the CLP leader Shaktisinh Gohil for “misleading” the Congress high command.
Welcoming Mr Amin’s joining the BJP, chief minister Modi said, “He is a leader who has remained among people to serve them since his youth. Coming of Amin to the party will strengthen democracy.” Mr Modi, who is apparently banking on Mr Amin to neutralise Keshubhai Patel’s political clout in the Saurashtra region, said, “Congress has not only cheated people, but it has also cheated party workers by denying them tickets. It is important to defeat family-oriented politics of Congress.”
Mr Amin had quit the Congress on Tuesday along with six prominent leaders, including spokespersons of Gujarat Congress Jayanti Parmar and Hitesh Patel, state party general secretary Ashish Amin, farmers cell chairman Dashrath Patel, teachers cell chairman Digvijaysinh Gohil, Ahmedabad Congress vice-president R.C. Patel.