Advani to meet Gujarat rebels today

New Delhi, March 30 | Updated: Mar 31 2005, 05:30am hrs
Several Gujarat BJP state leaders are in the Capital for talks with the leadership on their grievances against chief minister Nar-endra Modi and his autocratic style of functioning.

On Tuesday, Mr Modi, who is already smarting from the recent controversy over his visa denial by the US, also had discussions with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the brewing rebellion in the partys state unit.

In fact, the dissidence began almost a year ago, soon after the Lok Sabha elections wherein the state did not fare as well as had been expected. Now, several state unit leaders, who are spearheading the rebellion against Mr Modi, are in the Capital for their meeting with party president LK Advani on Thursday. Besides the chief ministers style of functioning, other grievances that may come up for discussion will be his unwillingness to take other leaders into confidence in decision making, delay in filling up vacancies in state boards and corporations.

Moreover, earlier this month, there had also been allegations by some BJP legislators that their telephones had been tapped, and had demanded Mr Modis ouster. At the time, Mr Advani, who had made it clear in the past that he disapproved of partymen airing their grievances in public, had said that he would address their grievances after the conclusion of the Budget session of the Gujarat Assembly. However, soon after that, he had publicly praised Mr Modi and his administration.

While acknowledging that there were some problems in the state party unit, party sources, however, told FE that everything would be sorted out, and that there was no question of replacing Mr Modi. They said that there were always some disgruntled elements, and the party leadership would deal with them effectively.

But with the rebels showing no signs of withdrawing, Mr Advani has called four of the leaders Mr Modis predecessor and the rallying point for the rebels, Keshubhai Patel, BJP state president Rajendrasinh Rana, former Central ministers Kashiram Rana and Vallabhai Kathiriya and former chief minister Suresh Mehta to Delhi for a meeting here on Thursday.

According to the rebels, they have the backing of around 60 out of the 129 BJP legislators in the 182-member House.