In a move that stunned the BJP, senior party leader LK Advani announced on Thursday that he would undertake yet another rath yatra across the country.
His decision took party colleagues by surprise because the yatra would bring the focus back on him in a scenario where the BJP had resolved not to project anyone as its prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari had recently told HT in an exclusive interview that no individual leader would be projected as a prime ministerial candidate and that a collective team of top leaders would be showcased instead.
But Advani seems to have other plans. “I have decided to take out a yatra against corruption. Its focus will be good governance and clean politics,” the 83-year-old said at a press conference. He said he had spoken about his decision to Gadkari and other top party leaders, who had endorsed the move immediately.
A senior BJP leader, however, said, “Advani’s decision is a surprise move that shows he is very much in the race (for prime ministership).” Cash for vote: Advani dares govt, says arrest me
Advani was flanked by Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, leaders of the opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively, at the press conference. Advani skips tea party, ties with Speaker hit new low
A few days ago, Advani minced no word in conveying to Gadkari and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at a key meeting in Ujjain that “the people rallied for a leader rather than a party.”
Later, the buzz was that the RSS intended to tell Advani he must not insist on projecting himself again and make way for younger leaders to try their luck.
After Advani’s announcement, the BJP parliamentary board met to discuss a possible change of guard in Uttarakhand, which goes to polls early next year.
With chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal battling party critics accusing his government of acquiring an unfavourable image, senior leaders discussed whether he could be replaced by former chief minister BC Khanduri, BJP sources said. Khanduri was replaced by Pokhriyal in June 2009 after the party lost all five Lok Sabha seats in the state.