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BJP in a fix over keeping Advani, managing Modi

There appeared to be no compromise offer till late on Monday. Senior BJP leaders said there was no way Modi’s appointment could be cancelled. At the same time, none of them wanted Advani to leave in this fashion. Shekhar Iyer reports. High and lows of Advani | Modi urges Advani to change his decision

delhi Updated: Jun 11, 2013 13:00 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
LK Advani resignation,Narendra Modi elevation,BJP

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s appointment on Sunday as BJP’s campaign head for 2014 polls remained beyond the scope of re-negotiation a day later as the party’s parliamentary board appealed to patriarch LK Advani to withdraw his resignation.

There appeared to be no compromise offer or a face saver till late on Monday to Advani — other than an appeal read out by party chief Rajnath Singh that his services as a guide and mentor were “needed more than ever before”.

Earlier in the day, an angry Advani had bowed out from all key party posts, leaving its image tattered as a divided warring formation.

Senior BJP leaders said there was no way Modi’s appointment could be cancelled. At the same time, none of them, including Modi and the RSS, wanted Advani to leave in this fashion. Even Modi urged him to change his mind, saying “I hope he will not disappoint lakhs of karyakartas (party workers)”.

A party official said Advani would be happy if the BJP left it to him to decide the issue of leadership or at best leave it open till 2014 polls.

“The fact is, Advani is not ready to hang up his boots. But our cadres are not ready to work for his candidature again after the 2009 debacle. They want Modi, as they think only he can propel the party to victory,” a BJP insider said.

The RSS, too, did not want any rethinking on the decision.

Those backing Advani said Rajnath had “mishandled” the issue and should have gone by the “sensitivities” of Advani – rather than what Modi wanted – before the Goa conclave was held.

They said Advani was mainly angry with Rajnath for not coupling the announcement about Modi with Nitin Gadkari being made the chief of election management committee for four states — Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh — going to polls this year.

In January, Gadkari was denied a second term after storm over alleged deals in his Purti Group. BJP insiders said once Rajnath settled down, Advani “realised” Gadkari was a “victim” of a conspiracy and wanted some key work to be given to him. However, Rajnath thought a past chief should not be made a state in-charge.

Advani agreed to Modi elevation, but wanted Gadkari rehabilitated. But again, Rajnath was not keen on two panels.

Stung by the slight, Advani stayed away from Goa conclave, citing illness. His supporters wanted Modi’s takeover delayed but they did not openly oppose it. Rajnath then went ahead and announced Modi’s name.

First Published: Jun 11, 2013 01:38 IST