ĎYes, I was going... didnít want to be told letís give upí

Was your revolt in 1996-97 against Narendra Modi?

No, it was against the system. When the Jan Sangh was disbanded after Emergency and became the BJP, we would go to villages, live there, talk to people to attract them. Then when the party came to power in 1995, it was decided Keshubhai Patel would be CM. But Modi began telling everyone I had ambitions to become CM. He tried to influence Keshubhai and Delhi leaders. Atal Bihari Vajpayee came here to sort it out. So much had Modi brainwashed Keshubhai that he never met me for six months. We used to dine together every month, even that was gone. When the BJP formed the government, Keshubhai once told me over some issue, "This is the CM's privilege." I said, "What is this? We have contributed to your becoming CM!" He was under Modi's remote control. I always felt Keshubhai should have asked me once and verified all that he had heard.

Many in the BJP are choking but not able to carry out a coup like you did. Why?

If you think about your security, you cannot take risks. All of these people want to be secure and then fight. If you have a fight on principles you should go all out, whether you will form a government or not. Was I going to form a government? I never used force, no carrots. Jaspal Singh came to my camp and returned. Babu Bokhiriya's wife came to take him back, and I said go. I told them, you come with me only if you are courageous enough to go against a confidence vote even if Vajpayee and L K Advani are standing before you.

Are you in touch with Keshubhai?

No, I only say namaste when we meet on a flight. I regard him as a veteran. He must be so pained that he has to do all this at this age. I did it at an age when I could tolerate it; there were physical assaults, and I gave it back.

... contd.

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