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Goa Meet: Advani’s absence fuels talks of dissent over Modi
Vibha Sharma/TNS

Panaji, June 7
The battle within the BJP over Narendra Modi became more than evident today with senior-most party leader Lal Krishan Advani choosing to skip the first day of the all-important party meeting in Goa to discuss the election strategy for the 2014 general election.

Though BJP managers tried hard to gloss over the conspicuous absence saying Advani could not make it to the seaside sojourn because of “health reasons”, this perhaps is the first occasion when the veteran leader has stayed away from a structured party meeting to discuss fundamentals.

Party sources say Advani has never missed any Jana Sangh or BJP national meeting and there is more to his absence than the health reason.

While BJP leader Sudhanshu Trivedi asserted that Advani would arrive in Goa on Saturday and that the media should not read too much into today’s turn of events, the difficult start to the conclave proves that the transition of power from the old to the new guard will not be an easy task for the top leadership to resolve.

Advani wasn’t alone to make his reservations on Modi being projected as all-in-all of the BJP obvious. Senior leader Sushma Swaraj failed to arrive at the scheduled office-bearers’ meeting - a testimony perhaps to the fact that the anti-Modi camp tried hard to ensure that the agenda for the national executive, which also includes elevation of the Gujarat Chief Minister, could not be finalised.

Sources said Sushma relented and came for the meeting almost one and a half hours late only after party president Rajnath Singh assured that Advani’s point of view would be addressed.

Other prominent party leaders from the “Advani camp” such as Uma Bharati, Jaswant Singh and Shatrughan Sinha are also not attending the meeting. Further, Varun Gandhi and Ravi Shankar Prasad kept away from the proceedings on the first day.

Even though the last-ditch effort to stall Modi’s upward movement may not fructify, largely because of the massive support he enjoys at the cadre level, it has exposed the vulnerabilities of the party.

Sources say Modi is upset at the embarrassing turn of events that has given enough fodder to the Congress to revel in the rumblings within the saffron fold.

In spite of reports of opposition, the BJP may announce Modi as the head of the party’s election committee on Sunday. Party sources say there is expectation among the cadre that Rajnath Singh will give out a clear message to the party at the Goa conclave.

“He has been working on it and is in consultation with party’s top brass and members of the Parliamentary Board prior to the conclave,” a member said.

The Gujarat Chief Minister, who many in the party are rooting as their possible Prime Ministerial candidate, was given a rousing welcome by supporters and leaders soon after his arrival here this morning.

His cut-outs along the way from the airport to the venue in Panaji prove his growing acceptability within the party. His role in the next Lok Sabha election is expected to be the highlight of the BJP national executive over the next two days.

Besides election strategy, the agenda will include issues like internal security of the nation, downturn in the economy, price rise and corruption.

Two resolutions - one on national security and pride, and the other on political situation -will be also be made. The national executive will further discuss the upcoming elections in six states - Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Mizoram.

Rudy co-pilots flight to Goa

Passengers on board the Indigo’s afternoon flight from the Indira Gandhi International Airport to the Goa International Airport were in for a surprise as BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy, a commercial pilot, co-piloted the aircraft.

Though Rudy prefers to fly to places he is supposed to attend party meetings in, today he made it a special case to give the passengers an in-depth account of the flight path and upon landing was seen standing in attendance with the flight stewardess to see off the passengers.

It is standard practice for pilots to give a brief account of the route, altitude and temperatures inside and outside the aircraft but Rudy’s lengthy discourse left passengers impressed and also amused.

“Give a politician a mike, even if it is of an aircraft, and he is ready with a speech,” a passenger said. 





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