In the backdrop of Advani-Modi rift suspense hovers over who would flag off chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's 'Jan Ashirvad Yatra' to begin from Ujjain on July 22.
The yatra which is aimed at mobilising the masses in favour of the ruling party for a third consecutive term in the state is to cover all the 230 assembly constituencies by September 25. State assembly elections are to be held in November.
In August 2008, then Prime Ministerial candidate for the BJP LK Advani had flagged off Chouhan's Jan Ashirvad Yatra about three months ahead of the assembly elections in the state. The BJP retained the power in the assembly elections.
Chouhan's conscious efforts to project himself as a leader who believes in 'Sarvdharm Sambhav' notwithstanding, his yatra is, however, not without a religious tinge. For, the yatra would begin from renowned Mahakal temple, the same venue chosen in August 2008.
If not in the past five years, Chouhan's equations with party leaders don't appear to be the same now after Modi's elevation to the post of BJP Election Campaign Committee chairman for 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In the backdrop of Advani-Modi tussle, the BJP leaders in the state are curious to know if it's Advani or Modi who would flag off the yatra this time. Since Jan Ashirvad Yatra plan has been chalked out by the state BJP election campaign committee Modi is the leader who should be at the venue by virtue of his being the party's central election campaign committee chairman, feel several party leaders.
They say if this happens the question arises if Advani would like to attend the yatra and rub shoulder with Modi on a common platform.
The party leaders are tightlipped over the same. Needless to mention, Chouhan is considered much close to Advani and the latter hardly misses any opportunity to praise Chouhan for his good governance and humility. But since Gwalior controversy Chouhan has met Advani just once.
During the state BJP executive meeting in Gwalior recently, Advani's words of praise for Chouhan and his attempt to project Chouhan as a better chief minister than Modi caused much heartburn in Modi camp. Advani not only showered praises on Chouhan, he went to the extent of equating him with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in terms of their humility.
Result: None else than the party national president Rajnath Singh had to issue clarification before the media that Advani's statement had been misinterpreted and that "there cannot be two opinions that Narendra Modi is the most popular leader in the country."
Sensing the prevailing mood in the party Chouhan sought to steer clear of the controversy. He put himself on number 3 position in seniority among the chief ministers from the BJP after Modi and Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh.
Chouhan said to the media, "Narendra Modi is my senior, my elder brother. Raman Singh is also senior to me. Leave alone being number one, or number two, I am not even at number three."
Chouhan immediately added, "I am at number three."
As if this was not enough, Chouhan hugged Modi during the BJP's national executive meet in Goa to greet him on his (Modi's) nomination as the BJP election campaign committee chief. He also showered praises on Modi in his tweets on the micro blogging social network Twitter.
State BJP spokesperson Vishwas Sarang said the party had just chalked out the yatra plan, hence it's too early to say who would come and who would not. The presence of the national leaders would depend on their schedules.