Nagpur News: Nitin Gadkari, the former BJP president, has turned down Advani’s proposal to head a committee that would manage the party’s campaign and strategy for crucial state elections over the next few months, which will serve as the semi-final for the big national election expected next year.
Gadkari according to sources reportedly made it clear to Advani that he does not want to take sides in the battle between the camps that are for and against Modi being declared the party’s presumptive prime minister.
The internal rift between the senior-most leaders of the BJP, many of who believe they deserve to be its prime ministerial candidate, has been playing out externally for weeks, embarrassing the party and spawning concern that it could turn voters away.
That’s partly why the BJP’s parent body, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, has been pushing for Modi to be appointed the head of the election committee, which would signal Modi’s VVIP status. The strife is likely to be discussed at a meeting of senior BJP leaders that begins in Goa on Saturday.
Advani was among those who campaigned most forcefully for Gadkari to be removed last year when a vast business empire he set up was accused of financial malfeasance. So his new support for Gadkari is seen within the BJP as an expression of his determined opposition to Modi.
That sentiment was on public display over the weekend as well, when Advani appeared to put down the Gujarat chief minister by suggesting that his counterpart in Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has performed better.
Yesterday, the BJP president Rajnath Singh said that Advani’s remarks had been misinterpreted. He also reiterated that Modi is “the most popular leader” within the BJP.
For LK Advani and other BJP leaders who want to block Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s ascension to the very top of the party, it’s time to think of a new plan.