BJP rebels published their dissidence in local newspapers on Monday with a half-page advertisement of their patriarch Keshubhai Patel saying “pull down the autocrat from the chair”.
The ad has left the party red-faced, which had last week tried to convey that Keshubhai has been ‘won over’.
Alongside the ad is a photograph of Keshubhai in a posture similar to Ambedkar and Netaji — the right hand pointing forward and upwards. Released by the Sardar Patel Utkarsh Samiti — a synonym for the grouping of BJP rebels — the advertisement is a compilation of quotes from Kesthubhai’s speeches at the dissidents’ meetings during which he had called Chief Minister Narendra Modi a ‘dictator’ who should be pulled down. The bottom of the ad carries Keshubhai saying “now is the time to bring change”.
The first excerpt is from his Independence Day speech at Surat where he clearly indicated that ‘the autocrat’ should be removed, although he did not name Modi, who had ousted him in October 2001 as part of the BJP high command’s plan to revive the party’s fortunes in Gujarat.
Stung by the rebels’ open projection of Keshubhai as their patron, the BJP said they might take action. “We will certainly take note of that. It is a serious development,” said senior leader Sushma Swaraj.
Keshubhai said he has no objection the ad. “I have not given the advertisement. It is a compilation of my speeches given at various places and published in the newspapers. I am not denying that I have not said what has been published but I have not made the appeal."