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Loyalists seek to mollify Advani

New Delhi, Sep 14, 2013, DHNS: 2:19 IST

They advise him to go easy on Modi

 **FILE** Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Rajnath Singh. File PTI photo
Not reconciled with Friday’s decision by the BJP leadership to project Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha elections, veteran leader

L K Advani’s camp has threatened to further embarrass the party with an explosive weekend blog.

While hinting at the explosive blog on Saturday, Advani’s close aides chose to keep the contents of it to themselves. Whether this was merely a threat or an advance notice of a counter-attack from him, several party leaders who have been very closely identified with are understood to have tried to convince Advani to desist from such a course of
action.

Among the close followers of Advani who met him during the day to pacify him were Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, senior party functionary Ananth Kumar, party spokespersons Balbir Punj and Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Despite their strong reservations until very recently, these leaders had gone along with the party Parliamentary Board’s decision on Friday to make Modi the prime ministerial candidate.

During their separate meetings, these leaders are understood to have impressed upon their leader to reconcile with Modi’s elevation.

It was not clear if they were successful in their mission to calm the sulking leader.

Late on Saturday, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, who has been a staunch supporter of Modi’s elevation, too, called on Advani to mollify him.

However, it is learnt that the party leadership, confident that Modi’s elevation has the backing of not just the majority in the Parliamentary Board but also the party cadre, is hoping to face the situation even if Advani goes ahead with his plans to post the embarrassing blog.

“We will take it in our stride since he remains our respected leader. But we know that the decision we have taken has an overwhelming approval of the party rank and file,” a top party functionary said.

Advani, who is senior member of the Board, had skipped its Friday meeting.

On his party, party president Rajnath Singh chose to play down Advani’s dissent. On a visit to Mumbai during the day, Singh said this about Advani: “Our leader, guardian and mentor never stated that Modi should not be elevated as the poll mascot.”

During an interaction with reporters in Mumbai, Singh said “our guardian and mentor” Advani “has every right to scold or admonish” any party leader. When told that Advani had questioned his style of functioning in a letter, Singh said, “I do not have the stature to reply to anything that Advani says.”

He denied that, in the process of elevating Modi, the party had isolated and marginalised Advani. “Where is the question of his isolation,” Singh said in response to questions on whether Advani was being sidelined for resenting the party’s decision.

In a similar vein, RSS leader M G Vaidya, too, made light of Advani’s dissent, saying that, as a member of the Board, he had a right to express his view. But he added that the decision on Modi was arrived at in a democratic way.

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