Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Haren Pandya -- Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's arch-rival -- was offered a Union Cabinet berth, which he refused to accept on the advice of his mentor and former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, a top Bharatiya Janata Party leader told rediff.com on Friday.
"Yes, Pandya was offered a ministerial berth at the Centre with the understanding that he should discontinue seeking a party ticket to fight the election in Gujarat. But he has been dissuaded by Keshubhai Patel, who wants Pandya to help him counter Modi," the senior leader said.
Former Gujarat revenue minister Haren Pandya has a running feud with Modi ever since he refused to vacate his Ellisbridge constituency in Ahmedabad for the chief minister. Modi eventually contested from Rajkot-II and secured a berth in the legislative assembly.
Pandya's name has not figured in the three candidates' lists released yet by the BJP for the election scheduled for December 12.
Significantly, senior leader Arun Jaitley rushed to Ahmedabad on Wednesday in a bid to defuse the tension between various factions in the Gujarat unit.
Jaitley, however, apparently has failed to succeed with both the Modi faction and Keshubhai faction trading potshots at each other.
This has put the BJP central leaders in a tizzy, who are worried that the fallout of the
Modi-Patel fight would sully the image of the party before the electorate.
But both factions have taken heart from the fact that their main rival, Congress party, has also been equally affected by factionalism.
In fact, the infighting in the Gujarat unit of the Congress has prevented its high command from coming out with its second list of candidates.
The BJP leader pointed out that although the party high command was backing Modi to the hilt, his bitter standoff with Keshubhai Patel was proving to be a 'trauma'.
"Much of our optimism of victory at the hustings is now shaken. Unless peace is restored among our party members in Gujarat and they unitedly go to the polls, we could be in for a shock," he said.
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