Gujarat polls: BJP rebels still groping in dark

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Ahmedabad, Oct 11 (UNI) The announcement of the Assembly elections in Gujarat has put pressure on Bharatiya Janata Party rebels, who have been opposing Chief Minister Narendra Modi, as they have to take a decision on whether to join the Congress or form a separate party to contest the upcoming polls.

The rebel leaders today left for Delhi to discuss the future course of action with senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who has not yet decided to quit the BJP. He, however, has maintained that he would oppose Mr Modi in the coming elections.

Mr Modi has the backing of BJP high command and the party has already announced that the forthcoming polls would be contested under his leadership.

Even senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister Suresh Mehta, who held a press conference yesterday just a few hours before the announcement of the poll dates, did not respond to what action the rebels would take to ''dislodge Mr Modi.'' The BJP rebels, who were hoping that the elections would be announced after 'Navratri', are also in a dilemma over joining the Congress as ''it lacks a leader to be presented as the Chief Ministerial candidate.'' Another aspect that has kept the BJP rebels away from the Congress is that Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki and Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly Arjun Modhwadia share strained relations.

The political 'vanvas' (retirement) by Mr Modi's bete noire Mr Patel because of his ill health, has also left the rebels bewildered.

After the resignations of BJP MLAs Ramila Desai and Siddharth Parmar from the Gujarat assembly, the rebel group, consisting of around a dozen MLAs, still have not made their stand clear. Some have plans to extend support to the Congress and the BSP, while others wish to launch their own party.

On the other side, the BJP is almost ready for the elections and senior leaders said new and young faces would be given opportunities as the ''party has tremendous support among the youth.'' UNI

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