Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who led the Bharatiya Janata Party to a shock defeat in the recent by-elections to the Sabarkantha Lok Sabha and Sabarmati assembly seats, is set to resign by evening today, October 1, in deference to the party leadership's wishes.
A high-level committee headed by BJP president K Jana Krishnamurthy is engaged in finding a replacement for Patel, sources said.
Gujarat Industry Minister Suresh Mehta, number two in Patel's Cabinet, was summoned to New Delhi this morning for consultations. Twenty other ministers and MLAs are also in the capital to meet the leadership.
Patel himself met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, Krishnamurthy, BJP vice-president Madanlal Khurana, who is in charge of the party's affairs in Gujarat, and general secretary Narendra Modi on Sunday.
He has been under tremendous pressure to quit and clear the way for another leader ever since the by-election results were declared, though Patel clung on to the seat for all he was worth.
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