Hon’ble Keshubhai Patel, Ex-CM Gujarat Expired on 29.10.2020 at 11.30 hours.
A karyakarta from the RSS, Keshubhai Patel, popularly called Keshubapa, (father), was among the founder members of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), the political party rooted in the Sangh launched in 1951. He was its president from 1972-75, and was among those witnesses of history who saw the merger of the right wing BJS with the Janata Party in 1977 and the launch of the BJP in 1980.
Keshubhai became the Chief Minister of the first BJP government in Gujarat in 1995.
Keshubhai, a Leuva Patidar (Patels), was born Keshubhai Desai, and changed his surname to Patel after he became active in politics. His family is said to have migrated from Vaso village in Nadiad of Kheda district, a village of Patidars, where revenue clerks were known as ‘Desai’.
The family migrated to Saurashtra and ran a flour mill in Rajkot. Jana Sangh veterans like former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela, who knew Keshubhai for 55 years, says he ran this mill in Hathikhana area of Rajkot for a living, and describes him as a “self-made” man who built the party from scratch.
Keshubhai had told this paper in an interview in 2015: “Many Patels from Amreli and Junagadh are Desais –– clerks who collected taxes from land owners and were found in the tiny state of Vaso near Nadiad and in Saurashtra. Throughout school, I was Keshubhai Desai, till our Junagadh leader Suryakant Acharya (Former BJP MP) began to refer to me as ‘Keshubhai Patel’ in public, and the name stuck”.
The changing of the surname “was largely looking at the political situation of the time”, says BJP member Yogendrasinh Padhiyar, whose father Narsinh was among BJS founders and a close confidant of Keshubhai.
In Rajkot, he went to Alfred High School, which is also Mahatma Gandhi’s alma mater. “The family also used to keep cows and buffaloes. We were one of their customers for buying milk. His wife Leelaben used to supply milk to our family,” Gunvant Delawal, president of Rajkot’s Sargam Club and a member of RSS, says.
As Chief Minister of Gujarat in 1990, Keshubhai had played a key role in the organisation of the Rath Yatra led by former deputy PM LK Advani for building of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Following the yatra that expanded the national presence of the BJP, Advani went on to win elections from the Lok Sabha seat of Gandhinagar in Gujarat from 1991
BDPA (INDIA) conveys heartfelt condolances to his family.