Somnath: Former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel was reappointed as the chairman of Somnath Temple Trust with Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposing his name in the meeting of trustees held at the temple town on Wednesday.

Patel, 88, has been the chairman of the temple’s trust since 2004 years. The reappointment of this veteran Patidar leader is being seen in the light of the importance that BJP is giving Saurashtra in the election year. The region has been the party’s traditional stronghold and dominated by the politically and socially influential Patel community.

In this two-day visit, Modi’s mention of Keshubhai Patel for his contribution to Gujarat’s development was also conspicuous in his speeches.

Keshubhai, a known Modi baiter, had snapped ties with the BJP to float his own political outfit – Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) – in August 2012 taking along other disgruntled BJP leaders. However, after a drubbing in 2012 polls, GPP merged into BJP.

Saurashtra is as crucial to the Gujarat assembly as UP is to Lok Sabha as the peninsular region accounts for at least 48 seats of the total 182. The BJP saw their traditional bastion slipping away in the district and municipality elections of 2015 where it suffered severe reverses, mainly due to the Patidar angst over their reservation demand.

Top priority has been accorded to road infrastructure in Saurashtra with six out of the eight state highways proposed to be converted into national highways being in this region. This was announced by Modi in Bharuch on Tuesday.

After an hour-long meeting, Laheri told media persons, “During the meeting, all the trustees agreed to reappoint Keshubhai as the trust’s chairman for 2017. His name of proposed by PM Modi while Advaniji seconded it.”

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