Having won the first round of the battle to control the BJP, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday met his chief detractor LK Advani, the party patriarch who is bitterly opposed to his elevation as campaign chief.
BJP strongman Narendra Modi during BJP National Executive meet in Panaji, Goa. PTI Photo
This was the first meeting of the two men since Advani dramatically resigned from key party posts a week ago in apparent protest against Modi's appointment, only for the RSS to force a climbdown a day later.
The two sat together for 45 minutes at Advani's Prithviraj Road residence and are believed to have discussed the recent turn of events in the party, including the BJP-JD (U) split.
Advani has been a strong votary of an NDA-first policy, while most BJP leaders and workers feel the party should rebuild itself with Modi as its face, as other parties will flock to it if it fares well in the polls.
"I can't divulge the details of the conversation, but it was on a positive note," said a key Advani aide.
Modi was also careful to meet the two other significant leaders of Advani's vintage: former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and senior partyman Murli Manohar Joshi.
Some saw in his choice of leaders a conscious signalling of the passing of the baton from one generation to another.
"Modiji has come to Delhi to express his gratitude over his recent appointment as chairman of the BJP campaign committee at Goa. He has expressed his gratitude and said he is trying to fulfil the responsibility given to him," Joshi said.
After a morning of paying respects to the elder statesmen, Modi got down to business in the afternoon, going to the Planning Commission to discuss the state's financial plans.
Clad in trademark half-sleeve kurta, he held forth to the media on how Gujarat was spending a lot on the social sector, with Dalits, tribals and backwards as beneficiaries, a nuancing in image from pro-business to pro-poor.
And then he drove straight to the BJP central office at Ashok Road, where he met party general secretaries and the party's programme implementation committee.
"This is a kind of formal taking charge of Modi, but specifics will come later," said a BJP leader who attended the meeting. While it has been made clear that Modi won't go to Ayodhya this week, he is likely to address a rally at Pathankot on June 23 and Mumbai on June 27.