Modi-baiter Keshubhai Patel quits BJP, to launch new party

Keshubhai Patel

Capping weeks of a high-pitch campaign against Chief Minister Narendra Modi, his predecessor Keshubhai Patel today quit the BJP and will announce a new political outfit tomorrow to challenge the Gujarat strongman in the December assembly elections.

The veteran leader, who ushered in BJP rule in the state in 1995, walked out of the party with former Union minister Kanshiram Rana, saying it had become a "one-man party" and declaring he would form the "real BJP".

"Kanshiram Rana and I, who have served the party for the last 60 years, are very sad to send our resignations from the party that we have nurtured. We are not switching the party but we are going to form a real BJP," Patel told reporters after sending his resignation to BJP president Nitin Gadkari.

Patel, twice Chief Minister of Gujarat, was once a powerful leader of the OBC community in the Saurashtra region but has been politically marginalised in the state for quite some time now.

The extent of damage he could cause to Modi and BJP in the most enduring citadel of the saffron party remains to be seen.

Patel's exit from BJP and floating a new party could see a realignment of anti-Modi forces in the state months ahead of the assembly polls with Mahagujarat Janata Party of former state minister Gordhan Zadafia likely to merge with it.

This, political analysts believe, may lead to emergence of a third force to challenge BJP and the Congress at the hustings.

"BJP has not remained real BJP which we had formed... This party has become a one-man party and gone far away from its principles," Patel said attacking Modi and giving reasons for his quitting the party.

"I will tomorrow announce the formation of our new party," he said.

Kanshiram Rana, a strong leader from Surat, who was Union textile minister in the NDA government, said "Vajpayeeji had once told Modi to follow 'Rajdharma' and inspired by that, we have decided to follow Praja-Dharma."

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