Uma’s estranged confidant returns to BJP

Bhopal, March 21 (IANS) Former central minister Prahlad Patel, who used to be a confidant of ex-chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Uma Bharati, rejoined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here Saturday.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, state BJP president Narendra Singh Tomar, Commerce Minister Kailash Vijaywargiya and several other leaders were also present at the state BJP office on the occasion.

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The re-entry of Patel, who led a breakaway group of Bharatiya Jan Shakti (BJS) for more than a year after his rift with Uma Bharti, came after weeks of parleys with senior party leaders.

According to party sources, senior BJP leader Kailash Joshi had a discussion with the chief minister and the state BJP chief Thursday night on the issue of Prahlad’s return to the BJP.

Earlier on Thursday, Chouhan also met the state BJP office-bearers and discussed Patel’s return. According to the sources, Patel has not put forth any condition and assured he would abide by the party’s policies, only asking for a dignified return.

What lent support to his return, after four years, is that the BJP is still to find a suitable candidate for the state’s Chhindwara seat, represented by Congress’ Kamal Nath.

“Patel may be fielded against Congress leader and Commerce Minister Kamal Nath like 2004,” the party sources said.

However, Patel refused to say anything on his future role in the party except “I will abide by the party’s policies”.

In 2004, the BJP wrested 25 out of 29 Lok Sabha seats in the state.