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The drama over BJP veteran LK Advani suddenly expressing his “desire” to contest from Bhopal, instead of Gandhinagar, did not just underscore the unease between him and Narendra Modi.
It was, perhaps, a message Advani sent out: He is not dependent on Modi to get a ticket or even win a Lok Sabha seat, BJP insiders said. Though he has represented Gandhinagar for five times, it is no secret that Advani is not in the best of terms with Modi — ever since he opposed Modi’s anointment as the PM candidate last September.
He backed Modi subsequently. But it was understood then that his change of heart had to do with “some kind of understanding” with Modi and the RSS, probably that he would be allowed to contest from Gandhinagar again.
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Two months ago, an attempt to persuade senior leaders, including Advani and MM Joshi, to consider berths in the Rajya Sabha — instead of the Lok Sabha — got “leaked” before they were even approached, leaving red faces.
On February 27, the BJP released its first list of candidates. Advani was upset that his name did not figure in it, as Gujarat was not taken up by the central election committee, of which he is also a member.
Last week, he made it clear that he was disappointed that his name had not been announced yet, and his “desire” was to contest from Gandhinagar again.
On March 13, when the BJP announced its Madhya Pradesh list, Bhopal was not mentioned, leading to a speculation that Advani followers Sushma Swaraj and Shivraj Singh Chouhan had saved it for him if Modi insisted on contesting from Gandhinagar too.
The events further unfolded on Wednesday when Advani is first learnt to have informed party chief Rajnath Singh about his preference for Bhopal. He reportedly argued that since most of the seniors were giving their preferences, he, too, should be allowed to make a choice.
Advani conveyed that he had no problems in contesting from Gandhinagar “as such”, but was keen on Bhopal as he considered it a safer seat. He, however, left it to the party.
He skipped Wednesday’s crucial BJP parliamentary board meeting where senior party leaders, including Singh and Modi, apparently discussed the issue. Later, they concluded “unanimously” that his shifting of constituency will send “wrong signals”.
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