After an entire day of being placated by top BJP leaders, sulking party patriarch LK Advani on Thursday came around and accepted the party’s decision to field him from Gandhinagar for the Lok Sabha elections.
The 86-year-old relented after BJP president Rajnath Singh released a statement saying it was up to Advani to choose between Gandhinagar, the constituency he has represented in the lower House for five terms, and Bhopal, the seat he wanted to shift to.
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Advani had been in a huff since Wednesday, when the BJP overruled his sudden request to be moved to Bhopal and announced his candidature from Gandhinagar. He was apparently miffed at not being named in the first list of candidates released on February 27 as he felt this led to speculation.
Narendra Modi, the BJP’s PM candidate, was the first to drive to the Advani residence. During a meeting that lasted half an hour, he requested his senior colleague to say yes to Gandhinagar and agreed to Advani’s demand that his aide, Harin Pathak, be fielded from Ahmedabad East.
Then, Sushma Swaraj and M Venkaiah Naidu reached out to Advani and were successful in persuading him. Arun Jaitley joined in their efforts. A ‘peace formula’ was worked out and Venkaiah called up Rajnath, who was in Chennai, from Advani’s home. It was decided that Rajnath would issue a statement, which would be followed by one from Advani.
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In the meantime, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat also spoke to Advani. He was apparently of the view that a decision should not be thrust on Advani and that he should be allowed to pick a seat of his choice.
Jaitley, Sushma and Venkaiah then worked out a statement that was emailed to Rajnath, who released it. “It is the unanimous view of the party that the choice of where to contest from should be left to (LK) Advaniji himself,” Rajnath said in the statement.
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“I have spoken to Advaniji and conveyed the views of all to him in this regard. The party will respect the opinion of Advaniji with regard to his choice of constituency for contesting the election,” the statement read.
The ‘crisis’ blew over soon after as Advani released his own statement, saying: “Having represented Gandhinagar constituency in Lok Sabha since 1991, I have decided to contest the 2014 general elections from Gandhinagar itself. I have conveyed my opinion to Rajnath Singh.”
“I am happy that Advaniji is contesting from Gandhinagar. Our critics will be disappointed,” Venkaiah said.
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According to BJP sources, Advani’s tantrums were only to underscore the point that he shouldn’t be treated like Murli Manohar Joshi, who was virtually arm-twisted into vacating Varanasi for Modi. “He is the senior-most active leader of the BJP. Advani was not happy with certain recent developments. He had to prove he is still relevant in the BJP,” a leader close to Advani said.