A day after buying peace with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Friday faced a fresh crisis within the party — senior leader L.K. Advani and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj skipped the customary public rally to mark the close of the party's national executive.
Spokespersons of the party tried in vain throughout the day to convince the journalists covering the event not to read any meaning into the two leaders' absence at the rally, where Mr. Modi shared the dais with Mr. Gadkari along with other leaders.
Mr. Advani's absence became the talking point as he had never given it a miss since the formation of the party in 1980. According to party insiders, he is not happy over a second term for Mr. Gadkari and also the manner in which Mr. Modi has held the party hostage for several months.
Senior party leaders said Mr. Advani was not present at the national executive on Thursday when the resolution to amend the party constitution to allow a second term for Mr. Gadkari was passed.
The party spokespersons pointed out that Mr. Advani was not scheduled to address the rally due to his prior engagements and it was made public four days ago.
However, they tied themselves in knots in explaining the absence of Ms. Swaraj. Insistence by journalists that her name figures in the invitation card for the rally left them with no defence. The official explanation is she told the leadership that she had an important party engagement.
Indicating the changed equations within the top brass after the return of Mr. Modi to the centre stage, the former Karnataka Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, not only made it a point to rush here to mark his presence at the executive, but also spoke gushingly on Mr. Modi's leadership qualities.