Yet again, the political third front movement in Gujarat has come to a naught. According to reliable sources, the Keshubhai Patel and Gordhan Zadaphia-led Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) may merge with the Bharatiya Janata Party later this month. If not the whole party, Zadaphia, with several GPP workers, is likely to rejoin the BJP.
Though Keshubapa has asserted on occasions that he will not rejoin BJP, the ongoing turmoil among the GPP functionaries points to a clear shift towards quitting the struggling front and saluting the rising sun. On Thursday, GPP had an unscheduled extraordinary meeting. According to president Gordhan Zadaphia, he was given the power by the workers to take a decision on their behalf. “All doors are open for us,” Zadaphia said.
This development is significant as it comes close on the heels of Keshubapa stepping down as the president of GPP, his son Bharat joining BJP and another Leuva Patel MLA from Congress Bavku Undhad also rejoining BJP last month. According to sources, Zadaphia has been tempted to rejoin BJP as he has been offered to contest Bhavnagar Lok Sabha seat on a BJP ticket. “Negotiations, however, are still under way,” an inside source confided.
The ‘merger’ if it happens, may not be completely seamless. Other senior leaders associated with the party may not necessarily be keen to rejoin BJP. In that scenario, though a feeble force, GPP may remain in existence but not as a force to reckon with.
If Zadaphia takes a U-turn, it would be a significant climb-down as he was the sharpest in his criticism of Modi. He had practically marched out of BJP, openly rebelling against Modi in 2007, criticising Modi’s high-handed behaviour and attitude. He had rejected an outstretched Cabinet seat as MoS home. He then formed the Mahagujarat Janata Party, which he later merged with the GPP in 2012 and fielded 171 candidates in the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly. They, however, won only two seats.