Keshubhai may return to BJP
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There are signs of former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel, the sulking leader who quit BJP to launch his own outfit and won two seats in the last Assembly elections, returning to the BJP.
Keshubhai had launched the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) ahead of the 2012 Assembly elections by merging the other rebel Gordhan Zadaphia's Maha Gujarat Janata Party and went on to win two seats, including his own, Visavadar.
At 83 years, Keshubhai might lend a lot of symbolism to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi than actual clout. Apart from helping in putting up a united face of the BJP, he can bridge the gap with the politically influential Leuva Patel community to fulfil Modi's target of winning all 26 Lok Sabha seats of Gujarat.
The murmurs in the BJP about this "merger" have become stronger since Modi met Keshubhai on his birthday on September 17. Nalin Kotadia, the other GPP MLA who was elected from Dhari, claimed the GPP-BJP merger is only a matter of time. "Most of the GPP leaders will go back to the BJP with Bapa (Keshubhai). It is just a matter of time and it is going to happen soon," Kotadia told The Indian Express.
Keshubhai could not be reached for comments.
The GPP's stand, though anti-Modi, had been more anti-Congress. Also with the RSS, which had backed Keshubhai during the 2012 elections and which is now backing Modi for the prime minister post, the merger might look inevitable.
"More than any electoral gain, winning back Keshubhai will give a high moral ground to Modi," said a senior BJP leader. "Modi did not waste any time to win BJP patriarch L K Advani back, even after he protested his PM candidature. But things were different in the case of Keshubhai, which had earned Modi an image of a self-centered leader. A united show with him will help Modi project an image of a leader acceptable to all."