It took a condolence meeting in Junagadh for Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and BJP patriarch LK Advani to be seen together first since the former’s elevation in the BJP hierarchy and the latter’s outpouring of angst and eventual piping down.
However, though they sat together on the dais on the occasion to condole the death of former Union minister Bhavnaben Chikhalia, there was hardly any eye contact between Modi and Advani.
“BJP president Rajnath Singh sat between Advani and Modi, who was flanked by Gujarat BJP leaders. Modi was seen whispering to Singh and Gujarat party president RC Faldu while Advani hardly talked,” a local BJP leader said.
“There was no natural chemistry between the two leaders who once enjoyed cordial relations,” said a BJP MLA who was also on the dais.
Advani and Singh flew down to Keshod near Junagadh in a chartered flight from New Delhi while Modi came by chopper.
Modi asked the state BJP leaders and revenue minister Anandiben Patel to receive them in Keshod.
This was the first public function where the trio (Singh, Advani and Modi) came together after Advani’s resignation from party positions and eventual retraction following Modi’s appointment as chief of the party’s campaign committee.
Chikhalia, who died on June 28, was a junior minister in the NDA government and represented Junagadh four times in the Lok Sabha. She had lost in 2004 and was not given the ticket in 2009. She won in the Junagadh municipal poll though the BJP had lost.
Paying tribute to her, Singh said she was a hardworking leader and “her performance in Parliament was excellent and it is unfortunate that we have lost her”.
Modi too recalled Chikhalia’s sacrifice and said, “When I asked her to contest the corporation election in Junagadh, she did not hesitate to do so and became a corporator”.