Rebellion mounted against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Friday as BJP veteran Suresh Mehta declared he would not fight elections under the leadership of the saffron party's Hindutva icon.
"I cannot say anything about others. But it is my personal decision that I will not fight the next election under his (Modi's) leadership," Mehta, who is on a visit to Delhi, told PTI. Elections are due in Gujarat later this year.
Mehta, who earlier this month met party chief Rajnath Singh, indicated there was little scope left for a patch-up with the chief minister.
"I am not here (in Delhi) for talks," he remarked. His comments followed Modi's meeting with his election strategist Arun Jaitley during which, party sources say, the chief minister called for disciplining rebels.
"There has been no reconciliation move," he said when asked about the central leadership's talks with rebel leaders.
Former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, who flayed Modi at a meeting of dissidents in Surat on Wednesday, Mehta and party leader Kashiram Ram Rana reprotedly a large support-base in BJP MLAs opposed to the chief minister.
The BJP, which stood staunchly beside Modi, downplayed Mehta's defiance, saying Singh and Jaitley would hold talks with the rebel leaders in Gujarat.
"The BJP leadership does not feel there is any need to replace Modi," senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said, adding he would continue to lead the party in the next elections.
Sources close to the party chief, who in January had dropped Modi from the BJP's parliamentary board, said it was up to Jaitley as overall in charge of Gujarat's election management to assess the situation and give his report to Singh for a review.