Opposed to Narendra Modi’s elevation in the party, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani on Saturday stayed away from the National Executive meeting which looks set to make the Gujarat Chief Minister the chief of campaign committee.
85-year-old Mr. Advani skipped the BJP National Executive meeting, perhaps for the first time in the party’s history, apparently to express his opposition to making Mr. Modi the campaign committee chief, which will in effect present him as the face of the party for the next general elections.
Mr. Advani cited ill health as the reason for his staying away from the two-day conclave which began in Panaji on Saturday, party sources said.
However, the sources said the party is keen to make the announcement about Mr. Modi at the National Executive meeting and the RSS has given its go-ahead to it.
“Whether Advani is there at the meeting or not, the announcement about Modi is likely,” at least two senior party leaders said.
Some sources said the announcement could come even as early as today.
There is a possibility of senior leader Sushma Swaraj, considered close to Mr. Advani, and others raising objections to announcement about Mr. Modi’s role in the absence of Mr. Advani.
The earlier concern that making such an important announcement in the absence of Mr. Advani and several other leaders, most of whom have cited sickness as the reason, would wean away the sanctity of the measure has now been set aside, the sources said.
Even the RSS is now said to be of the view that the party should go ahead with the announcement without further delay.
Mr. Modi’s role in the next general elections to be held in 2014 has divided BJP — some pushing for him, others close to Mr. Advani opposing him.
Apparently to show opposition, leaders like Uma Bharti, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and Yogi Adityananth, also considered close to Mr. Advani, are also not attending the meeting.