Saturday, November 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

BJP offers Pandya RS seat 
Move to appease Modi detractor 
Satish Misra and S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
With the showdown between Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and former State Home Minister and his detractor Haren Pandya on the ticket distribution issue poised to take an ugly turn, the BJP high command is leaving no stone unturned to save the situation ahead of the crucial December 12 Assembly poll.

According to highly placed sources, the BJP high command is contemplating bringing Mr Pandya to the Centre by offering him a Rajya Sabha seat.

Though unhappy over Mr Modiís adamant attitude against giving a ticket to Mr Pandya this time, the party high command is understood to be trying to sort out matters as both leaders have been at loggerheads ever since Mr Pandya refused to vacate his Ellisbridge constituency for Mr Modi to contest the byelections.

Realising that the rift between the two leaders should not be allowed to go out of control, the high command is keen on keeping the two warring leaders away from each other.

The BJP Central leadership is concerned over the damage potential that Mr Pandya has in the Gandhinagar and Ahemdabad regions. Besides, Gandhinagar is the parliamentary constituency of Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani.

In the event of the former state Home Minister agreeing to the Central leadershipís proposal, he will be brought to the Rajya Sabha in place of Dr A.K. Patel and asked to contest from the Mehsana Assembly seat, a Patel-dominated constituency.

Dr Patel had contested the Lok Sabha elections in 1999 from the Mehsana constituency but lost to his Congress rival Atmaram Maganbhai Patel by 55,735 votes.

However, party general secretary Arun Jaitley, who had gone to Gandhinagar to defuse the situation and resolve the differences, failed to get the nod of Mr Pandya, who seems to be emboldened by the show of strength displayed by his supporters.

Mr Pandya, a confidant of former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, has won the Ellisbridge constituency for three successive terms and has demanded the party ticket from the same constituency.

The BJP Central leadership will have to resolve the issue quickly as just three days are left for filing nomination papers for the December 12 poll.

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