Keshubhai Resigns As MLA Citing Ill-Health, BJP Woos Him

Keshubhai Resigns As MLA Citing Ill-Health, BJP Woos Him

Former BJP veteran Keshubhai Patel today resigned as MLA, in a move indicating his exit from active politics owing to failing health even as BJP invited him to return to its fold.

"I have submitted the resignation owing to my health," the wheelchair-bound octogenarian leader told reporters after submitting his resignation to Speaker Vajubhai Vala.

The resignation came a day after he strongly hinted while talking to his supporters in Visavadar that he will step down as a legislator.

"In the state (health) I am now, I would not be able to serve the people of my constituency. Now I will concentrate on recovery of my health," said Patel who represents Visavadar constituency in Junagadh district.

Patel had also said his Gujarat Parivartan Party should merge with a national party other than Congress, which is viewed as an apparent reference to BJP.

"After I stepped down as the head of GPP, the party office-bearers met and decided to merge the party with a national party," he said.

The former chief minister, who was removed unceremoniously in 2001 to pave the way for Narendra Modi's rise, had floated GPP before 2012 assembly elections.

However, the fledgling party failed to make any impact as only two out of 182 candidates it had fielded won. They are Keshubhai himself and the other being his son Bharat Patel.

Patel had stepped down as GPP president last month after his son Bharat crossed over to BJP.

"Senior BJP leader and in-charge of Gujarat Om Mathur met Patel at the latter's residence in Rajkot in the morning and invited him to rejoin BJP," said BJP's Saurashtra-Kutch spokesperson Rajubhai Dhruv.

Patel told reporters that he made it clear to Mathur that his health is his first priority.

"Keshubhai is the senior-most leader in Gujarat politics who has done a lot for BJP. As being the most respectable person of the party, Mathur met with him and invited him to rejoin BJP," Dhruv said.

Patel, whose political career spans over five decades, had become chief minister for first time in 1995.

He started as a Jan Sangh worker in 1960 and later became a founding pillar of BJP in Gujarat, taking the saffron party to the grassroots.

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