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Home > News > Report

Modi dissidents approach BJP top brass

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi and Naina Patel in Gandhinagar | August 08, 2007 00:56 IST

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As Kashiram Rana, former Union minister and disgruntled leader with many complaints against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, has arrived in New Delhi from Surat to meet the top brass of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the issue of dissidence against Modi has reached 11, Ashok Road.

Former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta, who is already camping in New Delhi, is expected to meet BJP president Rajnath Singh on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, the pro-Modi group had done their bit to give their side of the story to Rajnath Singh.

The pro-Modi group led by ministers like Purshotam Rupala, Amit Shah, Kaushik Patel and Bhupendra Singh Chudasama is camping in New Delhi.

They are trying to impress upon headquarters that those who are indulging in defaming Modi should be sent a notice for indiscipline.

However, that would be a tough call to take because among the dissidents there are some who are former chief ministers and Union ministers and more importantly, some of them are Patels, the powerful community supporting the party.

The pro-Modi section forcefully argues that Modi's popularity is intact, that BJP has maintained its edge among voters of Gujarat, that the clean image of Modi is unchallengeable and the development of Gujarat is exemplary.

The pro-Modi group also says that the so-called talk of Patels of Gujarat shifting their political support from BJP to Congress is untrue.
They says that Patels who are powerful and vocal will not shift to Congress in view of the caste-combination of the top state leadership of Congress, which has more Kshatriyas like state chief Bharat Solanki and Union minister Shanker Singh Vaghela.
Also, out of around 130 legislators it is said that only 30 or so MLAs have openly rebelled against Modi. Some 30 to 40 MLAs have the greed for a party ticket in spite of their poor performance. 
"There are MLAs who know they are going to lose and so won't be nominated again to fight the coming election. They have joined the anti-Modi campaign," a Modi supporter said.

The manner in which the pro-Modi and anti-Modi groups are creating pressure on headquarters is reminiscent of the political battle the party faced in the mid-'90s between Keshubhai Patel and Shanker Singh Vaghela, which ultimately led to break up of the BJP.

The tussle within BJP in Gujarat is quite serious and it will certainly take its toll, believe many experts.

Even if the Gujarat BJP doesn't get further divided, it will have enemies within and the party's official candidate will get challenged in nooks and corners of the state.

It seems that Sharad Pawar's [Images] Nationalist Congress Party will get some backing of BJP rebels if the NCP selects their candidates carefully.

Even the Congress can expect some windfall if Modi fails to pacify his own partymen whose egos he has punctured time and again.
Already, recently suspended leader and wealthy diamond merchant Dhirubhai Gajera has said that his group will support Congress candidates.

Currently, the anti-Modi faction of BJP is on the streets accusing Modi openly by organising many sammelans (public meetings). So far, 40 sammelans have been organised by the dissidents and increasingly, they are attracting crowds.
It started under the pretext of the Patel-community sammelan in Surat.

But, surprisingly within the party, the divide is vertical. On August 4, in Patan the dissidents' meeting had more than 1,000 party workers who were listening to the anti-Modi campaign of their seniors with delight.

In Gujarat, election is due in December 2007 and Modi has no option but to wait for 3 more months.

By threatening to resign or by dissolving Assembly, he is not in a position to gain much because it's too late.
The voters list has been published and the Election Commission has started pre-election exercises, but in view of the monsoon and the season of religious festivals pending, the elections will be almost on schedule.

"Modi has said in the presence of Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata that Gujarat has got Rs 1 lakh crore of investment. It turns out to be the biggest joke. Poor people are waiting to hear speeches against Modi in spite of the rains. This shows that Modi's government has failed to serve them," one dissident leader from Kutch told

Dr Vallabh Kathiria, former Union minister and Patel leader from Rajkot, told,"We are in the BJP and we will remain in the BJP. We are against Modi and not against the party. Don't call us dissidents. We are people fighting against the injustice of Modi."
"Modi is a dictator. He is an autocrat. He is not keeping his workers with him. He is conducting hypocritical propaganda and is running his government on hype. We are worried about our party. We want our party to get strengthened," he added.