The Bharatiya Janata Party central leadership's show cause notice to its rebel leader Keshubhai Patel on Saturday set off churnings in the party's state unity with three leaders and cadres resigning from the party even as many other disgruntled activists contemplated the next move.
Three BJP leaders, including ex-parliamentarian Dr A K Patel, former Gujarat minister Arvind Patel and former Surat mayor Fakir Chauhan resigned from the party. A few hundred BJP workers in Surat followed it up by quitting from the BJP.
The BJP, in turn, suspended six party workers, including the three who had given their resignations.
Rebel leaders held a series of meetings since morning at the residence of former Chief Minister Suresh Mehta in Gandhinagar in which Keshubhai Patel was also present.
"They have issued notices to two of the senior most leaders and suspended two sitting parliamentarians but this will be the end of the party in the state. On Saturday, a large number of party activists from Surat have resigned enmasse. The resignation of cadres from different districts will continue over next one month," rebel leader Gordhan Zadafia said.
The BJP had on Friday issued show cause notices to Keshubhai Patel and Kashiram Rana, another senior leader, and suspended from the party for six years Vallabh Kathiria and Somabhai Patel on the charge of hurting the interests of the party in assembly elections.
A K Patel said the three of them have sent their resignation letters to BJP president Rajnath Singh.
"This party is not an original BJP but Modi's BJP. Good people are leaving the party. We too have given our resignations. After we had sent our resignations, the state unit of BJP ordered our suspension in order to satisfy its ego," Patel, a member of Parliament in 1992 when the strength of the BJP in Lok Sabha was just two.
Apart from these three leaders, two former parliamentarians Chandaresh Patel and Lalit Mehta and a diamond magnate of Surat Jivraj Dharukawala were also suspended by BJP.
BJP lawmaker from Surendranagar Soma Patel on Saturday told media persons that 'had BJP central leadership had taken action against rebel leaders before elections, Congress would have got 150 seats. However, still BJP will lose on Sunday," he added.
"I have worked for Congress in this assembly elections and I am happy that the party has suspended me. I will sooner or later join Congress," he added.
Many leaders close to Keshubhai had rushed to the bungalow of Suresh Mehta in Gandhinagar to discuss their next move.
Ex MP from Anand, K D Jeswani, who was one among them, said: "I had offered to give my resignation from the party. But our leaders said that let the party suspend us instead of we resigning from it. That is the reason why I have not resigned."
Several dissident BJP workers and leaders in Surat reached the city office of the party at Rustompura and submitted their resignations to BJP Surat city president Pravin Naik.
"About 1,500 BJP workers, including 19 ex-corporators and mayors, have resigned from the party," said Dhirubhai Mangrolia, the convenor of Sardar Patel Utkarsh Samiti, a BJP rebel organisation.
Reacting to enmass resignations, Naik claimed 'most of those who submitted their resignations are not active workers of BJP.'
Earlier before submitting the resignation, ex-mayor of Surat Fakirbhai Chauhan said: "BJP's leadership in New Delhi cannot comprehend the implications of its decision to issue notices to Keshubhai and Kashiram."