Party blames media speculations for reports anticipating his absence
Refuting speculations, the Bharatiya Janata Party stated emphatically on Thursday that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would attend the party's upcoming two-day national executive meet here from May 24.
Mr. Modi was conspicuous by his absence at the national executive meet in New Delhi last year. Since then, news of his probable absence has almost always heightened political gossip before major events.
“There is no such thing as confirmation. This is a meet called by the party high command and Mr. Modi will be attending it,” said BJP's Mumbai unit president Raj Purohit, when asked whether the organisers had received a formal assent from the Chief Minister.
According him, earlier reports anticipating his absence were due to a “misunderstanding” stimulated by frenetic media speculations. He dismissed questions about Mr. Modi having objected to current national president Nitin Gadkari helming the party affairs for a second term.
Mr. Modi's bete-noire, the former Chief Minister and fellow partyman, Keshubhai Patel, would attend the meet, as would be the tainted former Karnataka Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa. Mr. Patel, who has been targeting Mr. Modi since the latter's anointment as Chief Minister in 2001, has been keeping away from the event for the last three years.
Mr. Purohit said the meet would be a no-frills affair, in the wake of the drought plaguing 15 districts of Maharashtra. The State BJP unit would, however, organise an elaborate reception for the party's top brass and constitute a separate reception committee to welcome senior leaders like L.K. Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Gopinath Munde and Rajnath Singh.
In all, 24 hospitality committees had been formed to ensure that the meet went off without a hitch. There would be a state-of-the-art media centre in place for journalists at the Women's Art Centre of the Y. B. Chavan auditorium, where the meet was slated to kick-start.
A resolution on Maharashtra's drought situation and its handling by the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition would be on the agenda, said the organisers.