Advani decides to contest from Gandhinagar

Last Updated 20 March 2014, 15:00 IST

In twists and turns marking top-level rumblings in BJP, L K Advani today decided to contest from Gandhinagar in Gujarat after the party had given in to his pressure and allowed him the choice of the constituency in the Lok Sabha elections.

The 86-year-old leader made the announcement shortly after party president Rajnath Singh issued a statement saying that it was for Advani to choose whether to contest from Gandhinagar or Bhopal, seeking to end a 24-hour drama that exposed the simmering tensions between him and Narendra Modi.

Advani, who has been sulking since yesterday over the party decision to field him from Gandhinagar against his wish of Bhopal, said Modi came to him this morning and "emphasised that the people of Gujarat are keen that I represent Gandhinagar Lok Sabha once again.""I have represented the state both in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. Having represented Gandhinagar constituency in the Lok Sabha since 1991, I have decided to contest the 2014 general elections from Gandhinagar itself," Advani said in the statement, bringing to an end the raging row over his constituency. 

Advani said Rajnath Singh had conveyed to him the desire of the Gujarat unit of BJP and the decision of Election Committee that he should contest from Gandhinagar.

Today, Singh informed him that the Madhya Pradesh unit of BJP had also suggested his name for contesting from Bhopal and that after consulting all colleagues in the Parliamentary Board and the Election Committee "it has been agreed that the choice between the two Parliamentary seats should be left to me.

"I am deeply touched by this gesture of my party colleagues. I had some weeks ago said that I would be contesting the Parliamentary election from Gandhinagar itself. I have been integrally connected with Gujarat since migrating from Karachi in 1947."

He said he was extremely grateful to Kailash Joshi, who represents Bhopal now, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, state party unit chief Narinder Singh Tomar and all members of the Election Committee of the state for proposing his name from Bhopal.

The settlement came after hectic discussions and meetings in the party. After Modi, senior leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu met Advani to placate him.

The Election Committee, headed by Rajnath Singh, yesterday decided to field Advani from Gandhinagar, angering him as he had desired to shift from Modi-ruled Gujarat to Bhopal, a reflection of his unease with the party's Prime Ministerial candidate.

With a sulking Advani insisting on contesting from Bhopal instead of Gandhinagar, from where he had won five times, Rajnath Singh said in a statement this evening that he had "consulted the members of the Parliamentary Board and the Central Election Committee of the Party on this issue telephonically since most of the members are traveling in various parts of the country.

"It is the unanimous view of the party that the choice of where to contest from should be left to Shri Advaniji himself," said Singh.

He said he had then spoken to Advani and "conveyed the views of all to him in this regard. The party will respect the opinion of Shri Advaniji with regard to his choice of constituency for contesting the election."

Earlier, he broke the news about his decision at a media conference in Chennai when asked about Advani's reluctance to contest from Gandhinagar.

"It is the choice of Advaniji to decide from where he would like to contest... I had left this option to Advaniji as to which is the seat he would like to contest from -- Gandhinagar or Bhopal," he said. 
(Published 20 March 2014, 14:53 IST)

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