Despite a new found bonhomie between Narendra Modi and Nitin Gadkari, differences in BJP seem to be far from over at its national executive meeting in Mumbai on Friday with leaders LK Advani and Sushama Swaraj set to stay away from a rally scheduled for the evening.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leaders Lal Krishna Advani (R) and Sushma Swaraj attend the inauguration session of the party's national executive meeting in Mumbai. AFP/Punit Paranjpe
Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman downplayed their absence at the rally which has been organised to project BJP as a vibrant party leading the NDA, which is ready to take on the UPA.
"Advani's schedule was fixed earlier so he won't be there and Swaraj has to attend a programme in Ghaziabad tomorrow morning," Sitharaman said.
Modi and Gadkari are set to be the star speakers at the rally with a senior leader remarking that their bonhomie has upset other senior leaders, including Advani and Swaraj.
With Gadkari smoking the peace pipe with Modi on Thursday, the equations in the BJP appear to be undergoing a change and leaders are considering the way ahead in the changed scenario.
The absence of Advani and Swaraj at the rally is also being seen in this backdrop.
With the NDA expecting to get a boost due to the recent developments, including the petroleum price hike, a section of the party claims that Gadkari and Modi could jointly call the shots against their interest.
Interestingly, Advani was not present at the national executive on Thursday when the resolution to amend the party constitution to allow a second term to Gadkari was passed.
Party leaders said that the BJP veteran had gone to meet an ailing relative in the city.
Gadkari on Thursday had appealed for unity and discipline in the organisation.