‘Atalji and Advaniji are like the banyan tree of the BJP’

A day after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was declared the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial face, senior BJP leaders called on veteran L.K. Advani in a bid to soothe his “sense of anguish” over the decision.

Mr. Advani had stayed away from Friday’s parliamentary board meet and shot off another sharp letter, attacking the party’s style of functioning, to president Rajnath Singh.

On Saturday, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar spent 90 minutes with Mr. Advani. Earlier, within minutes of the parliamentary board meet, Mr. Modi had reached out to Mr. Advani to “seek his blessings” during a 20-minute “courtesy call.”

The Gujarat Chief Minister then flew back to Ahmedabad, where he eloquently praised the veteran leader. “Due to their sheer hard work, Atalji [former Prime Minister] and Advaniji are like the banyan tree of the BJP,” he said, addressing supporters, and added that it was the “party’s duty to preserve these trees”.

Wary of Mr. Modi’s rise in the ranks, Mr. Advani had for some time been suggesting that Ms. Swaraj had the potential to don the mantle ahead the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

Ms. Swaraj was herself, till recently, opposed to making Mr. Modi the PM candidate. However, she caved in to pressure from the pro-Modi leaders, including the party president, and the RSS. “For her, it was a stark choice. Continued opposition in the face of a determined RSS and groundswell of support from the party rank and file, would have spelt disaster for her political career. Obviously, she has chosen to give in now and carry on the fight another day,” a senior BJP leader said.

The party is now bracing itself for another possible missive from Mr. Advani through his blog, which he periodically updates. In June, when Mr. Modi was made chief of the BJP’s national election campaign committee at the Goa National Executive meet, Mr. Advani not only skipped the session but wrote on his blog hitting out at the party leadership.

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