Emerging from his long political hibernation, former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel has started working aggressively to bring together leaders critical of the Narendra Modi-government on one platform.
Patel had done his best to sideline Modi and his supporters during his stint as CM. But he lost the power struggle in 2001. His latest initiative comes ahead of the assembly polls, slated to be held later this year.
"We are meeting to chalk out a strategy against the present dispensation," said Patel-aide Suresh Mehta. "We are concerned about the way the law and order situation is worsening and the common man is being ignored."
Besides Patel and Mehta, former Union minister Kashiram Rana, former junior home minister Gordhan Zadaphia and leading RSS leader Bhaskarrao Damle were also present at the meeting held Patel’s home in Gandhinagar.
Taking a dig at the party’s national leadership, Mehta said they had meted out grave injustice to Sanjay Joshi, who was forced to resign from the national executive to placate Modi.
Over the last few months, Patel has been speaking aggressively against the Modi government at various community and social functions.
"Keshubhai has been talking about injustice done to the Patel community, which forms the backbone of the BJP votebank in Gujarat," said Zadaphia, who after quitting BJP in 2007, floated his own Maha Gujarat Janta Party. "He is the undisputed leader of the community."
In Gujarat, Patels comprise only 15% of the population but dominate key sectors like agriculture, education, small and medium scale industries and the diamond industry of Surat.
They are a decisive factor in over 50 of the 182 assembly segments.