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Rebel BJP MLAs want Modi out
May 27, 2004 22:07 IST
Last Updated: May 28, 2004 01:47 IST
Following the Bharatiya Janata Party's poor show in the Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat, Chief Minister Narendra Modi was on Thursday night faced with a revolt, with 62 of the party's 127 members of the legislative assembly demanding his ouster.
State BJP leader Suresh Mehta, said to be a critic of Modi, rushed to New Delhi and met party president M Venkaiah Naidu and general secretary Sanjay Joshi and told them about the crisis.
The dissidents, led by Purushottam Solanki, the legislator from Bhavnagar, went public with their grievance at the birthday party of BJP leader A K Patel, considered close to Modi's predecessor and detractor Keshubhai Patel, at a farmhouse in Gandhinagar.
Modi was behaving like a dictator and his removal was necessary, Solanki said. "Nobody is listening to the MLAs. Their work is not being done and they are unhappy and demanding a change in leadership."
Solanki said the demand had the support of 62 MLAs and Keshubhai Patel, all of whom were present at the function.
Asked whether the dissidents would approach the BJP high command, Solanki said, "We have not yet decided about that."
Solanki said that when the BJP, under the leadership of Keshubhai
Patel, lost just two Lok Sabha seats in by-elections in Gujarat some years ago, he had to make way. Now that the party had lost a third of its seats, crashing from 21 to 14 in the state, which sends 26 members to Parliament, Modi should quit.
Asked if their demand had the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's backing, he said, "Where is the question of the Sangh coming in here? It is a party affair."
"Modi cannot alone take credit for the BJP's landslide victory in the December 2002 assembly election. It was a combined effort," Solanki said.
In reply to a question, the popular Koli leader from Gogha constituency, said, "Keshubhai is our leader…"
State BJP general secretary Jayanti Barot refused to comment on the development. "Nothing has come to me as yet, but I can say that there is no dispute in the party."
Modi, in an apparent damage control exercise, met several MLAs one by one during the ongoing assembly session earlier in the day.
His confidants Amit Shah, Ashok Bhatt and Bhupendrasinh Chudasama (Cabinet ministers) also attempted to pacify the dissidents and urged them to abstain from attending the party.
A K Patel criticised Modi, accusing him of making all attempts to stop several MLAs from attending the party.
"I have come to know that he has prevented people from attending functions at my place on previous occasions. It is my birthday and completely my wish to invite whosoever I please," he said.
Reacting to Chudasama's statement that "it is not his birthday today as per our record", A K Patel said, "They are a funny lot. A birthday is a private affair and none of their business. As per the Hindu calendar, I celebrate my birthday on this day itself."
Patel said Modi had developed a dislike for him and others after they started pointing out his administrative "weakness and mistakes".
Sources at the CM's residence said Modi "is busy in a meeting" and not immediately available for comments.