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Go Modi, in spite of Advani

Ahmedabad, March 13: BJP president L.K. Advani has come to Narendra Modi's defence, endorsing his efficiency and ruling out his removal as Gujarat chief minister, but rebel MLAs are in no mood to relent.

'The MLAs may differ with his working style, but no one complains about his administrative capacity, his ability, his honesty,' Advani said in a TV programme. Gujarat is 'among the best administered states in the country' because of the leadership of the government there', he said.

However, Dhiru Gajera, the MLA from Surat, said his group will continue to seek Modi's removal.

'We are firm on our demand for a change in leadership. We cannot get along with him and he cannot probably change his style of functioning, So, his removal is the only solution,' Gajera said. 'There is no question of backtracking until the issue is resolved to our satisfaction.'

Gajera claimed that the strength of the dissidents is increasing every day and the party's central leadership cannot afford to ignore this. 'We are going to discuss it with our leaders ' Keshubhai Patel, Kashiram Rana and Suresh Mehta ' and work out an effective strategy,' he said.

Unconfirmed reports said the dissidents are in touch with Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel ' a Gujarati settled in Maharashtra ' indicating that they may threaten to defect.

A.K. Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP whose word holds sway in Mehsana, also believes that Advani's defence of Modi would not make much difference to the situation in Gujarat. 'The dissident MLAs are very agitated and it is difficult to pacify them without meeting their demand ' a change in leadership,' he said.

A compromise being worked out involves Modi remaining chief minister with a nominee from the rebel group being appointed state BJP leader ' something he has resisted so far.

A Modi loyalist asserted that even rebels do not think there will be a change in leadership.

The BJP's central leadership is considering setting up a coordination committee that will include Keshubhai Patel, Kashiram Rana and Suresh Mehta.

The panel will be empowered to take a decision, which Modi will have to accept. Any aggrieved MLA can approach the committee.

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