NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Dissident BJP Maharashtra leader Nana Patole, who created a flutter by alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi hates criticism, on Friday resigned from the Lok Sabha and the party, jolting the party ahead of the Gujarat elections.
Patole, elected to the Lok Sabha from Bhandara-Gondiya, unleashed a torrent of criticism directed at the Modi government and the BJP, denouncing demonetisation, the GST and the attitude towards the farming community.
He said he submitted his resignation to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's office and to the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership. His brief letter to Mahajan read: "Respected Madam, I hereby tender my resignation of my seat in the House with effect from today."
Patole, the first BJP to quit the party and the Lok Sabha after Modi took office in 2014, created a sensation when he told a public function that the Prime Minister does not like to be questioned and criticized.
On Friday, he said he was "deeply anguished and felt let down by the party".
The development is seen as a blow to the BJP, coming a day ahead of the first round of the Gujarat Assembly polls on Saturday.
Patole, who has been highly critical of the BJP leadership, said he had quit the Lok Sabha and the party since he was "deeply anguished and felt let down by the party".
"The objectives with which I had joined the (BJP) party have been belied, but now (post-quitting) I am free of the turmoil in my mind," Patole told the media shortly after quitting.
"This government came to power with assurances to the people, especially farmers, but they have not been fulfilled. It gave an assurance that the (M.S.) Swaminathan Committee recomendations for doubling farmers' income will be implemented. But the first thing it did was to tell the Supreme Court that this will not be implemented."
He said in the past one year alone farmer suicides had increased by 43 per cent in the country and none of the welfare measures for the farming community had been implemented.
"The unemployment situation is very grave. The government had assured 20 million (two crore) jobs to youths every year but no steps have been taken to create new jobs, while government jobs have been cut by 10 percent," Patole said.
He said the economic situation was alarming, crores of people had lost their jobs after last year's demonetization and even private banks had been laying off people. At the same time, the Goods and Services Tax had virtually killed small enterprises.
"If people don't maintain a certain minimum balance in their accounts, banks are charging penalties which is deducted from the poor people's accounts. They are not even sparing the gas subsidy...," Patole said.
"It's going to be a people's fight. I will not be a part of this government and party. I will fighting along with the people... We will bring a new government."
Asked why he cannot raise these issues in Parliament, he said people like him were not allowed to speak in the House. "The party decides who will speak (in Parliament)."
Listing the grievances of the farming community, the leader from Vidarbha said he had raised the issue several times with Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis but his letters were not even acknowledged.
To a question, Patole said he had not made up his mind on which party to join but would consider throwing his lot with "some like-minded" political outfit.
In Mumbai, Fadnavis said he would "comment at the appropriate time".
Earlier this week, Patole shared limelight with senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha who led a farmers' agitation in Akola for three days, which ended on Wednesday with Fadnavis agreeing to concede all seven major demands.
Patole had earlier labelled the Modi government "deaf and blind" and accused it of favouring top industrialists, all its policies favoured only the corporates.
He also alleged that all central ministers "were always in a state of fear" and that he was "on the hit list but I am not afraid of anyone".