Advani yatra not for PM post, says Gadkari | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Advani yatra not for PM post, says Gadkari

BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Thursday categorically de-linked LK Advani's anti-corruption Rath Yatra - starting from Sitabdiara in Bihar - from the BJP's choice for a prime ministerial candidate. Vikas Pathak reports.

delhi Updated: Sep 30, 2011 09:12 IST
Vikas Pathak

BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Thursday categorically de-linked patriarch LK Advani's anti-corruption Rath Yatra - starting from Sitabdiara in Bihar - from the BJP's choice for a prime ministerial candidate.

"It is not for the prime minister's post but for awakening the nation," Gadkari, who showered praise on Advani for his "clean" record, said.

His statement comes a day ahead the party's national executive meet in Delhi, which Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi - seen as Advani's rival for the top job - may skip, fuelling feverish speculation about an ongoing power struggle in the party for the top job.

A Gujarat official confirmed to HT that there was no official intimation of Modi's attendance at the executive till evening. Thus, a national executive meet in which the BJP wants corruption to be the main issue stands the risk of raising eyebrows on power struggle instead.

But Gadkari has maintained that the BJP had several potential PM candidates.

When asked whether Advani was in the race for the top post, Gadkari said, "Advani ji said in Nagpur that what he has got till now is higher than the PM's post… What more should I say?"

Though Advani's statement was open-ended, Gadkari's reply was interpreted as an oblique hint that the veteran may not be a probable for the top post.

Gadkari also admitted later that there was some concern about Modi's presence: "We are talking to Narendra Modi. There are some problems due to Navratras, but we want that he should attend the executive."

While sources in Gujarat said Modi was fasting during Navratras and may skip the event for the first time since he became CM, a BJP leader said Modi was displeased Advani had skipped his annual visit to Somnath on September 25 this year.

Another leader pointed out to two reasons: his rival Nitish Kumar flagging off Advani's Yatra with the tacit condition that Modi will be kept off, and Gadkari making Sanjay Joshi active in the party despite Modi's objections.

Some, however, claim Modi may take a flash decision and his attendance could not be ruled out.

Gadkari avoided a direct answer to questions whether Advani's Yatra - which would pass through 18 states and three UTs - would pass through Somnath and Ayodhya, the starting and ending points of his Ram Rath Yatra two decades back.