In a major blow to the recently formed Gujarat Parivartan Party floated by former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel, his son Bharat on Monday rejoined the Bharatiya Janata Party in Ahmedabad.
Though he is not considered a heavyweight like his father, Bharat Patel is likely to dampen the GPP's prospects ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
He was welcomed in the party by Gujarat state unit president R C Faldu and general secretary Vijay Rupani by giving him a saffron scarf at the BJP office.
"I have discussed this issue with my father and he has told me to take my own path," Bharat told PTI, when asked if he took his father Keshubhai Patel's permission before taking the decision to join the BJP.
"I have been with the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh from the beginning of my political career. When my father formed a new party, I only acted as his agent in his Visavadar constituency," Patel said.
In a reply to a question if his father would make any political overtures towards the BJP, he said that as far as his father is concerned, he remains GPP president.
"However, considering his (Keshubhai's) age of 86 years, he told me that he would work with limitations in politics from now," Patel said, indicating that the former chief minister may not be involved in active politics.
Keshubhai who was BJP's first chief minister in Gujarat had formed the GPP before the 2012 state Assembly elections after resigning from his parent party. However, his party could not make an impact in Gujarat elections, as it managed to win only two out of 182 seats.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders see this a major development, especially after another former BJP MLA Rakesh Rao, who had also joined the GPP, rejoined the party on Monday.
"With Bharat Keshubhai Patel rejoining the BJP, our strength in the Saurashtra region will increase manifold," BJP general secretary Rupani said.
These developments come four months before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and are likely to benefit the BJP in wooing Gujarat's strong Leuva Patel vote bank.