Ahmedabad, Nov. 24: Discharged from hospital, an unforgiving Narendra Modi today forced the BJP high command to swallow a bitter pill and his rival Haren Pandya to withdraw his claim to the Ellis Bridge seat.
Pandya announced late tonight he was pulling out to save the party and its national leaders embarrassment. The BJP, which could not name a nominee for Ellis Bridge despite a day-long meeting today, is now expected to announce its candidate before the deadline expires tomorrow evening.
Pandya, a former Gujarat home minister whose candidature has pitted the chief minister against the BJP central leadership, this morning tendered an unqualified apology for his “differences” with Modi. Pandya also accepted Modi as the undisputed leader of the party.
However, Modi, who refused to accept the high command’s directive to allow Pandya to contest from the Ellis Bridge seat, showed no sign of forgiveness.
When the state election committee met in Gandhinagar this evening to name a nominee for Ellis Bridge, Modi threatened not to file papers from Maninagar if Pandya was given a ticket against his wishes.
The panel cleared the names of three more candidates today, leaving Ellis Bridge as the sole seat without a nominee.
As advised by the party high command, Pandya had visited the hospital in Gandhinagar where Modi was admitted after he complained of “extreme fatigue”. But the apology could not be delivered as the chief minister was then on sedative.
But Pandya made up today a few hours after Modi was discharged, telling reporters how he regretted the confrontation with the chief minister.
Pandya, an engineer-turned-politician, was handpicked by Modi in 1992 to contest from Ellis Bridge. However, the two fell out after Pandya drifted towards Modi’s rival Keshubhai Patel. Matters reached a point of no return after Modi started suspecting Pandya of levelling charges against him before a group inquiring into the riots.
Ex-BJP vs Modi
The Congress today decided to field former BJP legislator Yatin Oza from Maninagar against Modi. Oza represented Sabarmati in 1995 and 1998, resigned two years ago from the BJP and joined the Congress. ( )