Infighting between the groups in the Bharatiya Janata Party, on Sunday, led to the cancellation of the felicitation of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and newly-elected national head of the party Rajnath Singh in the city.
The felicitation function to be held at Somaiya grounds in Sion was announced soon after Modi was elected as the chief minister of Gujarat third time in a row in December. In the wake of the projection of Modi as the most-favoured party candidate for the post of Prime Minister last week, Modi supporters had planned the high-profile event in Mumbai.
The Mumbai BJP unit, which enjoys the patronage of Gopinath Munde, wanted a grand show. Thousands of supporters from Gujarat, too, were to attend the function.
While huge banners were put up by city unit chief Raj Purohit, the Gadkari camp managed to cut the Munde group down to size. Even at the central level, the groups opposing Modi were against the grand function.
The Gadkari camp convinced the high command that the lavish event could damage the party’s image. According to an insider, the example of the lavish wedding ceremony by NCP minister Bhaskar Jadhav and the subsequent criticism was used to convince Rajnath Singh. He was told that organising a grand function could invite flak from the media and public. “However, the real intention was to keep Modi at bay. Drought cannot be the reason, as it was prevailing even when the felicitation was announced in late January,” the insider said.
BJP leader Eknath Khadse, however, said that the decision was taken by Rajnath Singh. “He did not want the grand function to be organised at a time when Maharashtra was reeling under drought. There is no other reason behind it,” he said.
Wharton forum: New speaker added
A week after the Wharton India Economic Forum cancelled Narendra Modi’s talk and three other speakers withdrew, a new keynote speaker has been added to the beleaguered conference’s latest schedule.
Mohandas Pai, chairman of the Manipal Group has been added to the list of keynote speakers on the forum’s website. Last week, speculation was rife about other possible keynote speakers, with the names of Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal both being thrown up.
The annual student-run conference at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania’s business school has been in trouble since last week, when following opposition to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, Gautam Adani pulled out as a speaker, along with the Adani group as sponsors. Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu also cancelled his attendance.