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"The development that you see now (in Gujarat) was done by Keshubhai Patel as the first BJP CM. Narendra Modi has been falsely giving credit to himself," said Gujarat RSS general secretary Pravin Maniar at Gujarat Parivartan Party's Saurashtra convention in Rajkot on November 17.
Octogenarian Maniar, who is among the senior most RSS leaders in Gujarat, was seen at a public meeting after almost a decade. The last time he was seen campaigning for the BJP was back in 2002 when Modi contested his maiden election from Rajkot-II after replacing Keshubhai as CM.
While rifts between Modi and a few RSS, VHP and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) leaders in the state is an old story, now for the first time some of these leaders with grassroots connections are openly campaigning against the CM. This is in contrast to the 2007 Assembly elections and 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
And this is despite the fact that the RSS has been sending a strong message against dissent by sidelining its veteran pracharak Bhaskarrao Damle, who was attending Keshubhai's meetings much before the latter floated GPP.
In August, when Keshubhai had not formed his party, Rajkot-based educationist Maniar had preferred to watch an anti-Modi meet then held by him in Rajkot from the balcony of a nearby apartment. But now, he has declared his support for the former CM.
"GPP has the support of RSS," Maniar told The Indian Express, adding, "We have waited for 10 years, but not any more."
Popular BKS leaders like Praful Senjalia and Valji Patel have also been regularly accompanying Bapa. "In 2007, we had the hope that the Modi government might improve. Besides, we had no other option. Now, we have no hopes from the Modi government and have an option in GPP," said Senjalia.