Daughter helps broker ‘truce’, reconsider decision

It was a moment of deja vu for Mafatbhai Patel, the estranged husband of Narendra Modi's likely successor Anandi Patel, when he managed to reverse his decision of joining AAP. Something akin to what he did in 1990 for "family concerns", the 76-year-old BJP leader, set for political comeback after 13 years, changed his mind two days after announcing his decision to join AAP. Though Patel has not heard from Anandi so far, sources said the truce is the result of Anar, their daughter. Sources said Anandi, who has all these years maintained stoic silence over the issue, had relied on Anar to handle the situation.

A BJP leader close to the family said, "There were long discussions between mother and daughter on Saturday. On Sunday, Anar visited her father at their Memnagar residence in Ahmedabad. The father and daughter, along with other family members, had lunch together." Anandi, who lives in Gandhinagar at her official residence and when in Ahmedabad stays at son Sanjay's house in Shilaj, however, was absent. The next morning, Patel dismissed the possibilities of his political comeback. When contacted, Anar, who runs NGO Gramshree, refused to comment. "This is our family matter. I'd not open up on issues related to the family''.

Modi has been successful in wooing back most of the BJP rebels, who have parted ways, mainly objecting to Modi's autocratic style of functioning, during the last 10 years. If Mafatbhai would have joined AAP, Anandi, who has been considered to be number two in the Modi government, would have to face a rebel in her home itself. Incidentally, Patel has, in the past, blamed Modi for influencing decisions in his family. "This is my sacrifice for family," Patel told The Indian Express as he announced his change of mind.

People close to the family said for two days, after Patel made his plans to join AAP public, there was no exchange of words between the couple or with the children. Patel said, "After my recovery from cancer, for which I underwent treatment in the US in 2010, the children had convinced me to let go the bitterness. Then, I had agreed to them. Once again, I have accepted their decision." Patel, who can be credited for building the BJP from Jansangh in Ahmedabad district, along with his then colleague H L Patel, said, "I, personally, want AAP to do well. Many friends and colleagues, even those from abroad, had called up and hailed my decision to join AAP."

Patel has been politically inactive since 1990. It was the time when he supported Anandi's fledgling political career, when she was a school principal in Ahmedabad. In 1994, she became Rajya Sabha MP and in 1998 an MLA and a minister in the Keshubhai Patel government. Since then, she has not looked back. If Modi wins his next big battle as BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, Anandi is tipped to be the front runner to replace him.

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