Ahmedabad: Rebel BJP leader Keshubhai Patel, who announced the formation of a new party to take on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the upcoming assembly polls, is likely to be projected as the chief ministerial candidate of the anti-Modi outfit.
"Keshubhai Patel is likely to be projected as the chief ministerial candidate of the new party that he has announced to form," a leader of anti-Modi group said.
The party will contest all the 182 assembly seats and is likely to have a major impact on seats having Patel population in Saurashtra and Kutch and also in Surat in South Gujarat.
The chief ministerial candidate for BJP is Modi while the principal Opposition party — Congress — has not yet made up their mind on projecting anybody for the hot seat.
Patel, 83, who has come out in open against Modi in recent times is considered to be very powerful in numerically strong Patel community of the state which has been the backbone of BJP's undefeated stint of power in Gujarat for the last 15 years.
Modi would have never imagined that he would be facing such a strong rebellion from within the party and constituents of the Sangh Parivar in the run up to 2012 elections, sources close to Patel said.
For Modi, it is very important to win the state elections of 2012 with a huge margin to have a legitimate claim of being a prime ministerial candidate of his party for the 2014 elections. But for that he will first have to sail through this big rebellion ahead of the state elections led by Keshubhai.
For Keshubhai, to set up a strong party when only five months are left for the state elections is a challenge as it has to take on two established parties like the Congress and the BJP with a strong worker base in the state.
"We are hoping that large number of BJP dissidents, who have maintained silence so far against Modi will come out and join their party. Our worker base will be created from dissident BJP workers," sources close to Patel said.
Former Minister of State for Home, Gordhan Zadafia in Modi government, who had quit BJP in 2007 and floated his own party Maha-Gujarat Janta Party, is considered to be very close to Patel and has announced that his party will merge with the latter's outfit.
"In the last five years, my party has worked hard to garner a strong base of committed workers till booth level in our strongholds like Saurashtra and Kutch and South Gujarat. They will give strength to Keshubhai Patel's party," Zadafia said.
On 4 August, Keshubhai resigned from the BJP and annnounced that he will form a new party soon.