Ruling out differences between himself and senior party colleague LK Advani, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused the media of playing into the hands of the ruling Congress and sensationalising news.
Modi sat next to Advani on Monday amid reports that the Gujarat chief minister was not getting along well with the party's central leadership after Modi had stayed away from the BJP's national executive held in New Delhi in September.
Addressing a rally in Bharuch on Monday as part of Advani's 'Jan Chetna Yatra', he reacted to reports of friction between him and the BJP veteran and said these had been created by the media during its coverage of the Yatra on Sunday.
"It is all a handiwork of the media barons," Modi said, in the presence of Advani whom he accompanied in the specially-configured bus throughout the Yatra on Sunday and Monday to drive home the point that all was well between the two.
He was reacting to reports that there were cold vibes between him and Advani, both said to be in the race for the prime minister's post, despite his welcoming him in Vapi with garland.
Rebutting the news of rift, the Gujarat CM also referred to Monday's newspaper photographs of the vacant chair between him and Advani in Sunday's meeting in Vapi as proof of their differences, and said the chair "remained vacant because state party president RC Faldu was delivering his speech."
"There is a visible major rift because the chair between Anant Kumar and Advaniji was empty. If Modi is standing to deliver his speech, then his chair would obviously be empty.
"All the national dailies had a big story about the chair between Anant Kumar and Advaniji being empty. What has happened. May be just as we add spice to bland food, similarly media sensationalising things," he said.
"Media liked creating a controversy," Modi said lamenting that the media barons were "playing into the hands of certain Congress leaders who were working behind the scenes for planting such news items which were untrue."
"Even if I am not in the newspaper headlines or TV screens, I have found a place in the hearts of the people," Modi told the crowds which roared in applause.