Ahmedabad, Nov. 22: Narendra Modi is sick. Of the central command.
Hours after the BJP central leadership made it clear that it wanted to renominate Haren Pandya — against Modi’s expressed wishes — the caretaker chief minister complained of chest pain and uneasiness and was admitted to a hospital.
Modi has been opposing the renomination of Pandya, who he considers a loyalist of his rival Keshubhai Patel, from Ellis Bridge in Ahmedabad, while the central leadership is afraid of stoking rebellion by denying a ticket.
As the chief minister remained in Gandhinagar Civil Hospital after doctors advised him bed-rest, the BJP election committee could not meet. At the intensive care unit, where Modi is recuperating, there was a rush of politicians with get-well messages. Pandya was among them.
Sources close to the chief minister said Modi continued to be adamant in his stand that Pandya should not be renominated from Ellis Bridge, despite the state leadership also agreeing with the central command’s opinion that he should get a ticket.
The sources said Modi would file his nomination on the last day, November 25. Which means if Pandya’s name is announced for the Ellis Bridge constituency, the chief minister is keeping the option of not contesting open.
On the other side, time is fast running out for the central command to announce Pandya’s candidature with only two days left before Monday’s last date of filing nominations.
It’s a battle of nerves that will now be played out between Delhi and Gandhinagar. Accompanied by senior RSS leader Madan Das Devi, Modi’s close friend and BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley landed here today to try and stitch together a rapprochement after having failed once earlier this week.
Another bid at a patch-up failed with BJP supporters in Godhra, Modi’s campaign capital, refusing to accept the chief minister’s candidate Haresh Bhatt, formerly of the VHP. Modi had summoned Gopalsinh Solanki, a former MP, yesterday and asked him to turn his supporters around. Solanki expressed his inability: he himself is the candidate the local BJP is rooting for.
“The BJP wants to win this election in the name of Godhra, but the party cannot gain if it wants to force us to accept an outsider who will not be supported by local party workers,” said an angry supporter.
A day after the Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal released its report on the riots, indicting Modi and the administration, the task of defending the government was taken up by the VHP’s Praveen Togadia while senior BJP leaders chose to ignore it.
Togadia said he would file a defamation suit against members of the tribunal.