Veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani, who shares a warm relation with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar notwithstanding the severing of ties with the JD(U), will skip the party’s October 27 rally here.

The rally, to be held at Gandhi Maidan, would be the first public engagement of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Kumar’s home turf.

“Advaniji will not be there on October 27 Hoonkar rally in Patna which will be addressed by party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi,” party general secretary Ananth Kumar here to review preparations for the rally, told reporters.

Besides Mr. Modi, BJP president Rajnath Singh and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley will address the rally here, Mr. Kumar said.

Facing questions on Mr. Advani’s absence from the rally, he sought to downplay it saying it was party’s strategy and plan.

“All the top leaders (of BJP) cannot attend the 100 rallies the party has planned to hold across the country before 2014 parliamentary elections. Advaniji had attended the Bhopal rally and will participate in some more in future also,” said Mr. Kumar, who is also BJP Parliamentary Board member.

Asked if Mr. Advani’s absence was due to his personal relations with Bihar chief minister, he said “It is all speculation... BJP is one and all the leaders are working towards a common goal of setting the country free of Congress.”

Mr. Advani had resisted Mr. Modi’s elevation first as party’s campaign committee chief and later as prime ministerial candidate.

JD(U) has openly spoken of its respect for the BJP patriarch, who was the architect of the tie-up between the two NDA allies for long 17 years before the split in June.

During the recent National Integration Council meeting in Delhi, Mr. Kumar and Mr. Advani were seen greeting each other which set tongues wagging in political circles.