A fire broke out on Sunday night near the venue where Narendra Modi was being felicitated. Though no one was injured, the blaze gutted around 35 vehicles, mostly motorbikes.
The fire began shortly after the chief minister finished his speech at the reception hosted for him in Surat's Nana Varacha locality. The parking area is about half a kilometre from the venue.
Modi, who attended a meeting with the RSS top brass in the city earlier in the day, said the fire could be the handiwork of either the Congress or BJP rebels in the state.
"This seems to be the work of either the Opposition party (Congress) or the rebels. If they really want to do something, I challenge them to set me on fire," he said.
"Their intention was to reach the stage and cause harm to people but adequate security prevented them from doing so. As a final resort, they set the vehicles ablaze…I do not think the Election Commission will take cognisance of this incident."
State party president Purshottam Rupala also alleged that the BJP's detractors were responsible for the fire.
Surat Police Commissioner RMS Brar said it was not an accidental fire. He said the policemen posted at the parking area were distracted by something burning in a nearby plot. That was when the miscreants set fire to one motorcycle but it spread quickly to other vehicles because a fuel tank burst.
The chief minister left for Amreli later, where the BJP had scheduled a massive rally on Monday. It was barely a few kilometres away from a public programme organised by the rebel leaders.