The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Modi rivals eye Cong

New Delhi, Oct. 11: The BJP rebels in Gujarat today said they would contest the Assembly elections “in alliance” with the Congress and claimed they were talking to Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary.

Although the “alliance” has not been finalised, both Congress and rebel BJP sources said the “modalities” of an electoral understanding were being worked out.

“We are holding talks with the Congress but it is yet to be decided who will contest, what will be the nature of alliance, etc,” Gordhan Zadaphia, rebel leader and former state home minister, said after a meeting at former chief minister Keshubhai Patel’s Delhi residence.

Asked if the rebels will be floating their own outfit, Zadaphia said: “These details have to be worked out. But it is certain that we will have nothing to do with the BJP. The Congress is fighting to oust Modi. Our goals are the same.”

The rebels said they did not want to split the anti-Modi vote and that Congress leaders, including Ahmed Patel, were negotiating with them.

Congress sources agreed that “something could be worked out” since the rebels had helped create an anti-Modi mood in Gujarat.

Zadaphia’s past is the main hurdle for the Congress: he is one of the main accused in the Gujarat riots. The Congress has conveyed its reservations about extending any help to him if he contests.

Some rebels want to merge with the Congress but that cannot happen with Zadaphia’s presence among their ranks. Also, senior leaders such as Keshubhai and Suresh Mehta are not inclined to join the Congress.

The sources, however, said some senior leaders, such as Mehta and Kanshi Ram Rana, might contest the general election with Congress support.

Rebel sources say Keshubhai may not openly revolt against the BJP but he supports the dissidents, and his son Bharat might contest the Assembly polls with Congress help.

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