Serious cracks seems to be appearing in the top leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with senior leaders LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj staying away from a party rally scheduled in Mumbai.
The BJP has played down their absence saying both had prior engagements. Ms Swaraj also tweeted, “I respect and honour all decisions of the Party. Please do not draw any other conclusions…I must reach Delhi tonight because I have to leave early morning for an important party function in UP tomorrow.”
Advani’s unavailability indicates his gross unhappiness at Nitin Gadkari getting a second three-year term as the party president. In an unprecedented move, the BJP yesterday amended its constitution to allow Gadkari a second term at the helm.
Advani skipped that meeting. Gadkari’s term will now end only in 2015 and the party will go into the 2014 general elections under him, majorly undermining Advani’s role.
Party sources close to the former deputy prime minister Advani informed that he will not attend a rally that has been organized this evening at Parel in Mumbai to mark the end of the two-day national executive of the party. In fact Advani will leave for Delhi this evening even before the rally starts at 6 pm. It is also learnt that the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj will only briefly attend the rally and leave mid-way.
A deputy prime minister in the NDA government before it lost power to UPA in 2004; Advani has not yet ruled himself out as the Prime Minister candidate for the BJP.
Some partymen also point out that Mr Advani did not want to share stage with former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, who has openly criticised the senior leader. A sulking Mr Yeddyurappa had planned to skip the meeting but seemed to change his mind after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi decided to attend. Mr Modi had planned a boycott because of the presence of an old rival Sanjay Joshi and agreed to attend the Mumbai meet only after Mr Joshi resigned from the party executive.
These dramatic events have dominated what was meant to have been a resurgent, united party’s strategy meet. Yesterday the BJP president handed his partymen three mantras: Expand the National Democratic Alliance, increase the BJP’s vote share by 10 per cent, and concentrate efforts on building a base among the poor, the minorities and Dalits.