M A I N   N E W S

Gujarat rebels serve ultimatum
Seek removal of Modi
Satish Misra and S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 27
Even before the party could douse the fire in Jharkhand, BJP president L.K. Advani is facing yet another crisis as dissidents under the leadership of former state Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel have served an ultimatum on the party’s central leadership to either remove Narendra Modi from the chief ministership or they would resign from governmental positions.

While the dissidents have gone back to Gujarat after meeting central leaders including former Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi to celebrate Janmashtami, they have conveyed to the party high command that they would return to the Capital after the end of Parliament session on August 30 to campaign for the ouster of Mr Modi, who in their assessment has destroyed the BJP in the state.

Asked about the dissidents’ ultimatum of “hard steps”, party spokesperson Sushma Swaraj said that the party is aware of the problem and would address the issue after the end of the Parliament session.

The dissidents have been pitching for the removal of Mr Modi for the past six months, but had stepped up their anti-Modi campaign a month back lobbying hard against the “autocratic style of functioning” of the Chief Minister, which had resulted in the marginalisation of senior party leaders who have given their life in building the party in Gujarat.

During the past week, the rebels met all the top BJP central leaders, who are members of the party’s highest decision making body — Central Parliamentary Board — to convince them for the ouster of Mr Modi ahead of the coming Panchayat polls in the state.

As one of the rebel leaders told The Tribune “the party will face big defeat in the coming panchayat polls, if Mr Modi is not removed... The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, the VHP and the worker in general are totally disillusioned over the autocratic style of functioning of Mr Modi and it is bound to have its negative impact.”

“The panchayat polls were due last year itself and now it can’t be delayed further. So, it has to be held before December this year,” he indicating clearly that the dissidents wanted Mr Modi to be removed before the panchayat polls.

With Mr Advani himself being on a weak wicket after the RSS virtually asking him to quit the presidentship of the party, the rebels in Gujarat and elsewhere also have got emboldened in putting their views aggressively.

In fact, the Gujarat rebels have even threatened to quit not only their official positions, but also resign as MLAs if the party’s Central leadership persisted with Mr Modi.

Mr Advani’s total support to Mr Modi during has visit to Gandhinagar last weekend has only infuriated the dissidents further.

A prominent dissident leader compared Mr Advani to “Dhritrashtra” in Mahabharat who was blind and refused to see evils of his own sons and said that the RSS is with us.

Giving reasons for RSS disillusionment with Mr Modi, the leader said that the Chief Minister had weakened his position by identifying totally with Mr Advani.

As a matter of fact, Mr Modi had offered a Rajya Sabha berth to Ms Pratibha Advani who is the daughter of the BJP president, a leader said adding that this has not been liked by the RSS.

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