Dissident BJP leader and former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel announced on his 84th birthday in the diamond city of Surat on Tuesday that “ousting Narendra Modi from power” is his mission and he would achieve it with the “blessings of the people of the state”.
He said he would launch his political outfit in the first week of August and field candidates across Gujarat against the Modi-led BJP in the state where assembly elections are due in December.
Close to 40,000 people attended the public meeting addressed by Keshubhai and other dissident leaders. A senior RSS leader from Rajkot, Pravin Maniar, was among those present at the meeting.
Keshubhai, who was ousted as chief minister by Narendra Modi in 2001, said his new party would be a third front in state politics, rallying all anti-Modi groups and factions in Gujarat.
Keshubhai is seen as an important leader of the rich Patel community, which forms about 15% of Gujarat’s population and controls the agriculture, education, diamond and small and medium enterprises sectors of the state’s economy.
His birthday celebration turned out to be an impressive public meeting in the diamond city of Surat, now regarded as the power centre of Patel caste politics in the state.
Businessmen and Patel community leaders in Surat felicitated Patel and pledged to support him in his political mission.
“This government has neglected the poor, middle class and marginalised sections of society. Chief minister Narendra Modi keeps talking about the state’s high growth rate and development but the reality is vastly different,” Keshubhai said to thunderous applause.