“BJP suffering from NAMONITIS”, tweets Digvijay

For the beleaguered Congress, the open war in the BJP could not have come at a better moment, allowing its spokespersons to shine the spotlight on its principal rival.

If the week began with Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh referring to the “cold war” in the BJP, party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury outdid herself on Friday, in response to a question why senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Yashwant Sinha had not gone to Goa for the BJP national executive: she said perhaps these leaders had been struck by “Namonitis,” a coinage that earned her Mr. Digvijay Singh’s praise. “Full marks to Renuka. BJP suffering from NAMONITIS!! Any one from the SANGH who can treat this disease?” he tweeted.

On Saturday, as BJP leaders in Goa parried questions whether Narendra Modi — the man in the eye of the storm — would be named chairman of the party’s election campaign committee, in the national capital, the Gujarat Chief Minister’s supporters camped outside Mr. Advani’s residence on Prithviraj Road, shouting slogans against him. The placards they held aloft read “Narendra Modi Zindabad” and “Bring Modi as Prime Minister” as they demanded that Mr. Advani step aside and allow Mr. Modi a greater role in the party.

For the Congress, this was like manna from heaven, as all this lent strength to the speculation that Mr. Advani had stayed away from Goa, citing “ill health,” because he was unhappy about Mr. Modi’s possible elevation in the party.

‘It’s trailer, full movie not yet’

Reacting to the demonstrations outside Mr. Advani’s residence, Ms. Chowdhury said, they “should frighten all of us.” If a man “who is virtually the architect of that political party is now faced with this kind of rowdyism,” she stressed, “then the nation stands warned of what is going to come to them. That terrifies us.” The incident also “exposes what kind of treatment BJP leaders and workers mete out to their elders in the party,” she said, adding, “The country has seen the trailer. The full movie is yet to be seen. The seniormost leaders are being treated in this manner. And the nation remembers these things.”

The Congress also used the battle inside the BJP to question its competence to rule the country. “People of the country,” party leader Rashid Alvi said, “are seriously thinking that those leaders who are unable to manage their own party affairs and are fighting for unseen power, whether they are competent to run a country like India.”

Mocking BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, who attributed the illness that had stricken the party’s senior leaders to a change in the season, Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed tweeted: “It seems season is really changing in BJP! When season changes it is normal that few people fall sick, says BJP’s spokesperson Mr. Javadekar.”

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