| Modi wipes his face at a meeting on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on Sunday. (AFP)
Ahmedabad, June 13: Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Manali musings have sent a wave of optimism among BJP dissidents in Gujarat, who feel that “it is only a matter of time” before Narendra Modi goes.
Now that Vajpayee has made public the agenda for the national executive beginning on June 22 , the dissident group has gone to the extent of claiming that an assurance that Modi would be eased out was given by the central leadership when 62 of the 127 BJP legislators challenged Modi’s leadership.
The BJP high command intervened to quell the dissidence, at the forefront of which were supporters of former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, and served a showcause on Purshottam Solanki for an outburst against Modi.
But the showcause was meant to placate the Modi camp and not intended to punish the dissident who was not expelled after his explanation was found “satisfactory”.
The party could not have taken drastic action against the rebel leader as Solanki was not the only one who wanted Modi’s removal. Rarely had nearly half of the party’s MLAs made a representation for a chief minister’s removal to the state party chief, Rajendrasinh Rana, who had been apprising the central leadership of the ground situation in the state .
Reacting to Vajpayee’s statement, an upbeat dissident leader said: “We have faith in the central leadership which has made up its mind to remove Modi. That is what we want.”
Lying low ever since the central leadership stepped in and bought time, the dissidents said they do not intend to step up activities and embarrass Modi further as the high command is “doing our job”.
Insiders feel that with Vajpayee linking the Gujarat riots to the BJP’s poll defeat, Modi’s last hope lies in the support he commands among the Sangh parivar and a section of the party leadership in Delhi.
Despite VHP leaders like Praveen Togadia siding with Modi, the dissidents feel that it will be difficult to outgun their ranks.
Ranged on the side of the rebels are majority of the party MLAs, party office bearers, including the state president, two former chief ministers and about a dozen MPs.
From 62 last month, the number of MLAs who have turned against Modi is believed to have crossed 85.
Some of the chief minister’s staunch loyalists, like his biographer S.K. Modi, still believe that the party would not remove him.
“It would be disastrous as he still enjoys the confidence of the RSS and the VHP,” a Modi loyalist said.
They argue that the party leadership will be committing political harakiri if Modi is booted out. It may save the face of the national leadership, but his removal will finish the party in Gujarat, the supporters of the chief minister said.
The Centre has provided CISF security cover to 200 witnesses of the Gujarat riot cases and an activist helping the victims seek justice
The witnesses have been put up at six clusters across Gujarat and a few places in other states for provision of area security rather than guarding them individually, official sources told PTI in Delhi. Activist Teesta Setalvad has been provided security in view of the threat perception to her, they said.