Bapa returns ‘home’, cuts a lonely figure in small crowd
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Having set out to challenge his former protege and Chief Minister Narendra Modi, former CM Keshubhai Patel on Friday found himself waging a lonely battle as he addressed a thin crowd of 2,000-odd supporters in this town which was once called his second home and a pocket borough.
While floating his party Gujarat Parivartan Party in August this year, Patel had said that Visavadar, which elected him in 1995 and 1998 with huge victory margins, would be the epicentre of the change he wanted to bring in. Visavadar is a stronghold of Leuva Patels, the community to which Keshubhai belongs.
On Friday, however, it was a humbling moment for Patel. Even his former comrades were missing from his rally.
At a village in Visavadar, Mota Kotda, vice-sarpanch Kanu Kanani welcomed "Bapa", as Keshubhai is fondly called, with a garland of currency notes, as did the heads of 10 other villages. But his other staunch supporters like Rati Savalia, Ramnhik Dudhatra and Narendra Kotil, who used to look after the former CM's office in Visavadar, were absent.
"I do not want former supporters. I want to bring in change," Patel told The Indian Express.
Addressing the gathering at Visavadar, Patel made an emotional appeal recounting how he agreed to his party BJP's writ in 2001 and stepped down as CM to pave way for Narendra Modi, who got everything on a platter. "But I had no idea that Modi will ruin Gujarat and BJP like this. I have come out at ripe age of 84 because I cannot see this destruction," he said.
"Visavadar is the epicentre of change in Gujarat. I have come here again to do a hat-trick. But I want your support so that not a single seat in Junagadh goes to BJP or the Congress," he said.
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