Former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel Wednesday hinted at quitting his political career formally as he announced he was resigning as an MLA. He also said the fledgling Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), which he had floated in 2012, would merge with a party “other than Congress”.
“Due to age and illness, I am afraid I shall not be able to serve you now. So I shall resign as an MLA. This will also be proper as the GPP is set to merge with a party other than Congress,” Keshubhai said, while interacting with his supporters in Bhesan town.
Patel, 85, was on a day-long visit to his Assembly constituency of Visavadar. He has been elected three times from the constituency. The octogenarian has been plagued by age-related illnesses and finds it difficult to move around, sources close to him said.
The former CM was unceremoniously removed from the post in 2001 to make way for Narendra Modi. However, he came out of political hiatus in 2012 and opened a front against Modi, accusing him of ignoring the rights of his community of Leuva Patels. He broke ranks with the BJP and floated the GPP. But the new outfit failed to make an impact as only one candidate, besides Patel, could win the Assembly elections in 2012.
In a symbolic move, Patel’s son, Bharat, accompanied his father on the tour and was also present as his father interacted with supporters in a guest house in Bhesan. Bharat recently joined the BJP and is expected to be fielded by the saffron party from Visavadar after his father resigns.
Keshubhai had stepped down as president of the GPP last month, handing the reins of the party to general secretary Gordhan Zadaphia. Since then, speculation about the GPP merging with the BJP are rife. The party’s other MLA, Nalin Kotadai from Dhari in Amreli district, has been seen attending BJP meetings. But he has not resigned as an MLA yet.
Zadaphia said Keshubhai had discussed his resignation and the merger of the party a couple of days ago. “The office-bearers of the party had authorised me to decide on the merger. We are in talks with other parties,” said Zadaphia. Asked about the possibility of the GPP merging with the BJP, Zadaphia said, “That is likely as the ideology of our workers and supporters is basically that of Shyama Prasad Mookerji.”