Rebel BJP leader Somabhai Patel to join Congress


Ahmedabad : A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suspended him for “anti-party activities”, Gujarat parliamentarian Somabhai Patel Saturday vowed to join the Congress.

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Patel also told reporters that at least 50-60 BJP legislators, including many seniors, were on the verge of quitting the party because they were disgusted with Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Commenting on his suspension, Patel said: “I am the happiest person.” He added that he has not received the party’s suspension order but if it came he would “tear it to pieces”.

“I will go and join the Congress. I have been working for the Congress for the last two months. (Congress leaders) Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel are far better leaders than the top lot of the BJP,” he said.

He said he was confident the party would not dare to suspend veteran leaders Keshubhai Patel and Kanshiram Rana, both of whom were given show cause notices to explain their revolt against Modi.

The party’s central leadership Friday also suspended Vallabh Kathiria, another BJP member of parliament.

Patel said the action by the party’s national leadership was a clear indication that it was now painfully aware that it would be voted out when the votes of the Dec 11 and 16 assembly elections are counted Sunday.

Had the party suspended him and other rebels before the polls, the Congress could have easily bagged 150 seats, he said.

But now, the Congress would emerge victorious with a tally of 100 seats or so, he said. The BJP would get no more than 70 seats, he predicted. The assembly has 182 seats.

Patel alleged that Modi “is keeping BJP in his pocket. And (BJP leaders) Rajanath (Singh) and (L.K.) Advani are playing to the tune of Modi”.

He said the problems in BJP were entirely due to Modi’s “dictatorial style” of functioning.

“We tried to reason it out with party leaders (in New Delhi) that this kind of functioning will not succeed in Gujarat and pleaded with them to change the leader,” he said. “But the BJP, which dances to the tunes of Modi, will now be paying for it.”

He dared Modi to contest the 2009 Lok Sabha election from his constituency of Surendranagar in Saurashtra region.

Anybody can win in Maninagar, the assembly constituency Modi is defending, Patel said. “It is not a big deal to win from a safe constituency.”

He said it was sad that the BJP leadership has meted out such a “terrible treatment” to party workers like him whose “sweat and toil” since 1960 have seen the BJP grow from strength to strength.