After a very public rebellion over Narendra Modi’s ascent within the BJP followed by reluctant acceptance of it, BJP patriarch LK Advani filed his nomination papers for the Lok Sabha polls in Gandhinagar on Saturday with the Gujarat chief minister by his side.
It was Modi who handed over Advani’s papers to the district collector of Gandhinagar — a seat the latter was forced to accept after expressing a desire to contest from Bhopal — and the two even exchanged compliments. But the show of unity couldn’t completely hide the frosty ties.
Addressing party workers, Advani said there was no uncertainty about the BJP forming the next government under Modi’s leadership. Calling the PM candidate a “good event manager” and “able administrator”, he, however, refused to compare him with former BJP prime minister AB Vajpayee. “I would not compare, certainly not to Atalji. Atalji was a class by himself,” he said.
Advani, once considered Modi’s mentor, also said, “I would not call Narendra bhai my protege, but I have never seen a more brilliant and efficient event manager than him. And he has brought this event management capacity to governance.”
“This makes him more suitable for the assignment the party has given him,” he added.
The Congress was quick to latch on to Advani’s choice of words with spokesperson Randip Surjewala saying the country cannot be run by “event managers and crony capitalists”.
Speaking on the seat controversy, Advani said, “Our friends from Madhya Pradesh wanted me to contest from Bhopal also. But I never intended not contesting from Gandhinagar.”
On his part, Modi exhorted BJP workers to ensure Advani’s victory with a record margin, saying, “We are lucky that Advani ji, who created the party, represents Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha. Whatever we do for him is not enough.” He also acknowledged Advani’s support to him at every stage of his political career.
Advani has represented Gandhinagar in Parliament since 1991 and won the seat with a margin of more than 1.20 lakh votes in 2009, when he was the BJP’s PM candidate.