Twenty-eight legislators of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat have opposed the central leadership's decision to ask Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel to step down.
Even as the central leadership continued its deliberations in New Delhi on Monday to find a successor to Patel, 28 BJP legislators, mostly from the Saurashtra region, faxed a memorandum to party president Jana Krishnamurthy, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani opposing a change in leadership.
Patel belongs to the Saurashtra region.
They have argued that Patel alone could not be blamed for the party's debacle in September 20 by-elections to the state assembly and to Parliament - the ostensible reason for replacing Patel.
They have also said that BJP legislators should be taken into confidence before effecting any change in the state leadership.
Adopting a defiant posture, the MLAs cautioned the central leadership against any change of guard and warned that it would have disastrous consequences. Besides affecting the image of the party, a change would indirectly boost the morale of the opposition Congress party in the state, they said.
Lauding the achievements of the Patel government in the last three-and-a-half years, the memorandum pointed out that the state administration had implemented many progressive and important schemes. However, the seven natural calamities that had hit the state in the period had overshadowed Patel's achievements.
Even while the state faced a serious financial crunch, the legislators contended, the chief minister had implemented many schemes to benefit the poor and the downtrodden in the state.
When contacted, state BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana told IANS from New Delhi that the party high command was yet to take a decision on Patel's replacement.
Asked to comment on the names of the possible successors, Rana said a decision would be taken in consultation with BJP legislators.
"The party has not yet finalised any name. The prime minister will also be consulted before taking any final decision," he said.
Rana ruled out the possibility of a revolt within the BJP legislature party if Patel was asked to resign and party general secretary Narendra Modi was installed in his place.
Modi, as also Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries Vallabh Kathiria, are the frontrunners in the race to succeed Patel, party sources said.
Indo-Asian News Service
Keshubhai Patel set to quit as Gujarat CM
Narendra Modi likely to succeed Keshubhai
Back to top
Tell us what you think of this report