The 18-month-old Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), led by its president Gordhanbhai Zadaphia, merged with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday. State BJP president R C Faldu and Zadaphia exchanged merger documents, which will be submitted by the latter to the Election Commission. Barring its senior leader and former chief minister Suresh Mehta, almost the entire party organisation endorsed Zadaphia’s decision in a one-line resolution, empowering him to take the stand on the merger.
Welcoming GPP into the BJP fold, Faldu said GPP would melt into it like “sugar in milk”. Zadaphia, on his part, justified the merger against the wishes of some leaders who termed it as against its constitution, by saying that one-third membership was enough to ratify the merger decision.
Zadaphia said that Suresh Mehta had excused himself from attending the GPP meeting, in which the merger was finalised. About the status of Keshubhai Patel, who had stepped down in favour of Zadaphia as the GPP president, he said, “Keshubhai was a respected leader and he would himself take a decision on his future plans. Patel has already quit his Visavadar Assembly seat for son Bharat, who joined BJP recently.
Amid media attacks on his U-turn in terms of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Zadaphia said, “We only had some differences, but were never differed on our ideology, and never called him names as being shown in the media.”
When reminded that he had called Modi a dictator, he said he had always addressed Modi as “Narendra bhai”.
Zadaphia parried questions about the political U-turn, saying that personal differences with Modi were never so big as to dwarf ideological affinity.
Zadaphia said his decision was in GPP’s political interest and in the national interest. “At a time, when a son of Gujarat is going to become the prime minister, years after Morarji Desai, how can we stay away and be seen with those who are opposed to this” he quipped. “We will melt our entire selves to make this happen, with the help of GPP’s full strength of 7.5 lakh members,” he said.
In only scheduled election outing, calls on voters to defeat those who cause riots.