Sidelined by the emergence of a new power centre in the BJP made up of Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari, LK Advani Thursday continued with his very public criticism of the RSS-backed party chief.
Taking the blog route this time, he repeated what he had said at the party's Mumbai conclave last week — that the BJP was ill-equipped to be the alternative to the Congress ahead of the 2014 general elections.
"The mood in the party these days is not upbeat," Advani said.
"The manner in which BSP ministers removed by then CM Mayawati on corruption charges were welcomed to the party, and the handling of Jharkhand and Karnataka has undermined its campaign against corruption."
This was seen as an attack on Gadkari for bringing in the tainted BS Khushwaha and for giving a Rajya Sabha ticket to businessman Anshuman Mishra. The party chief has already accepted the blame for these decisions and reversed them.
Advani's outburst came on a day when the BJP claimed "success" in organising the nationwide bandh against the petrol price hike and a day after Modi, Jaitley and Gadkari attended the wedding reception of Karnataka strongman BS Yedyurrappa's grand-daughter. BSY had earlier targeted Advani for allegedly helping his rival Ananth Kumar and had threatened to quit.
Gadkari and the others chose not to respond. Instead, the party chief called a meeting of BJP office-bearers, apparently to discuss the bandh and a plan to intensify the stir in June. Advani was conspicuous by his absence.
But privately, many BJP leaders — including Sushma Swaraj — felt that Advani should not have spoken out. They said he had been "sulking" ever since the RSS refused to endorse his prime ministerial ambitions. He was also irked by the RSS' insistence on a second term for Gadkari and with Gadkari's decision to patch up with Modi, they said.