Advani skips BJP Goa meet

Modi issue likely to dominate proceedings

Advani skips BJP Goa meet

Sharp differences within the BJP became crystal clear on Friday, ahead of its national executive, with party veteran L K Advani staying away from the key office-bearers meeting.

Speculations were rife that Advani was unhappy over the reported move to make Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi the party’s poll campaign panel chief.

While Advani is expected to attend the two-day event over the weekend, the role for Modi, who scored a hat trick in the Gujarat Assembly elections held in December, is likely to dominate proceedings.

The BJP’s sweeping victory in the Gujarat by-elections wresting all the six (two Lok Sabha and four Assembly) seats from the Congress early this week has bolstered Modi’s claim for the post.

The meeting is being held in the backdrop of speculations that Modi would be appointed chairman of the BJP campaign committee for the next Lok Sabha elections. Recently, Advani had praised Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, raising eyebrows within a section of the party. He also added that Gujarat was already a developed state when Modi took over.

Advani also suggested that there should be a parallel campaign committee for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the northern states, but his choice for the post, Nitin Gadkari, declined the offer.

 Party leaders say it would be difficult to stop Modi from assuming a leadership role. The RSS is said to have given the green signal for Modi being made campaign panel chief as RSS in-charge for BJP Suresh Soni met party president Rajnath Singh on Thursday.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar seemed to have taken the lead as a pro-Modi leader.
Parrikar, who demanded the party to set a time limit for announcing who will lead the BJP in the LS polls, said: “Modi can catapult BJP to power. He is our most popular leader. He can bring victory to our party and the decision should be made in this meet.”

The meeting was also marred by the unhappiness expressed by senior leader Sushma Swaraj, known to be close to Advani, over his absence.

The meeting was delayed by nearly two hours, and started only after Singh spoke to Advani and requested him to attend the meet.

The party took pains to explain the veteran’s absence, otherwise known to be a stickler for party discipline. Singh said: “I have only advised Advaniji not to attend today’s meeting as he is not well. But he is reaching Goa tomorrow.”

Senior leader Venkaiah Naidu asked the media not to read too much into Advani’s absence.

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