BJP’s National Executive starts in the national capital on Friday with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s likely absence from it allegedly due to growing differences with senior leader LK Advani overshadowing the two-day event.
With Modi deciding to keep away from the National Executive, BJP central leadership was at pains to downplay the issue and maintained that since the Gujarat chief minister does not travel outside the state during Navratra, he cannot attend the party programme.
“There are some issues due to Navratra. We are working on it and see if he can attend,” party president Nitin Gadkari told reporters when asked about Modi.
Sources close to Modi maintained that this is not the first time that he will skip the National Executive and has done so in the past.
“The chief minister has prior engagements for tomorrow. He will be attending a meeting of the Somnath Trust. Moreover, he does not travel outside Gujarat during the Navratras as it is a big festival here,” a leader close to Modi said.
Some other leaders, both in the state and at the Centre, are still hopeful that Modi will spring a surprise and attend the conclave.
While BJP Central leaders are silent on the growing rift between Modi and Advani, there is a buzz that this is the reason for the chief minister keeping away.
Modi is said to be unhappy with Advani’s yatra for good governance and clean politics starting on October 11.
Modi had reportedly even told Advani that the yatra is “un-necessary and irrelevant”, according to sources.
There were reports that due to this rift, Advani had to shelve his plans of starting the yatra from Gujarat and chose Jaiprakash Narayan’s birthplace Sitabdiara in Saran district of Bihar.
Incidentally, Modi’s Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar will flag-off the yatra. Many see in this a message from Advani to the Gujarat chief minister.
Gadkari on Thursday set at rest rumours that Advani’s yatra will not cover Gujarat and said the senior leader is likely to spend three days in the state.
The BJP National Executive seems set to be a low-key affair with the opening session marked by Gadkari’s Presidential speech.
A political resolution on the current situation in the country, corruption in UPA-II and the key political issues will be passed on the first day.
The conclave will also have a session on Advani’s yatra to give final touches to the 40-day programme spread across 18 states and three union territories.
One session will be dedicated to the recent controversy over India “giving away” its territory on the Bangladesh border to the neighbouring country during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit.
Some parts of Assam are reported to be agitated over this development.
Another session will be held to discuss the Telangana issue. BJP supports formation of the state.
Advani will deliver the valedictory address on Saturday.