Embattled Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi finally tendered his resignation, but to the national executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is meeting in Goa.
A final decision on his fate will be taken later on Friday, when the national executive meets. The meeting was scheduled to have begun on Saturday morning, but with Modi submitting his resignation the party decided to advance it.
The dramatic announcement was made by BJP president K Jana Krishnamurthy at the Campal Grounds, venue of the party's public meeting in Goa, minutes after the rally began.
While Goa BJP president Laxmikant Parsekar was addressing the crowd, Krishnamurthy went straight to the media enclosure on his arrival at the ground and told them of the development, before going up on the dais.
According to Krishnamurthy, Modi stood up soon after the inauguration of the national executive meeting at the Marriott at 1630 IST and announced that he was submitting his resignation to the party's highest decision-making body. "I would prefer to sit here as a general executive member and not as the chief minister," he said.
In view of this development, the party chief said, the national executive meeting was advanced from Saturday morning to Friday night to discuss the Gujarat issue threadbare and take a decision on Modi's resignation.
"I will personally come to you to announce the outcome of the meeting," he promised the assembled reporters.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani were yet to arrive at the venue to address the public rally, when Krishnamurthy spoke to the media.
Following the communal violence that has wracked Gujarat for more than a month now, the entire Opposition as well as many of the BJP's allies in the National Democratic Alliance had been screaming for Modi's resignation. But the BJP had till now been holding firm, saying there was no cause for the chief minister to quit.
Even on Friday, BJP president K Jana Krishnamurthi kept up this stand, insisting that there was no question of Modi giving up his post.
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