Advani skips Goa meet as NaMo chant grows louder

Advani skips Goa meet as NaMo chant grows louder
Highlights

Big split in BJP is now wide open Protests outside Advani's house Compromise formula in the offing ...

  • Big split in BJP is now wide open
  • Protests outside Advani's house
  • Compromise formula in the offing
  • A battle of nerves going on.
Anita Saluja New Delhi: BJP patriarch L K Advani has decided to boycott the ongoing party conclave in Goa, protesting against the impending elevation of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. modiThe big split in the BJP was not only wide out in the open, but took an ugly turn on Saturday when pro-Modi slogans were chanted and a demonstration was staged outside Advani's 30, Prithviraj Road residence in the Capital, warning him against blocking the rise of Modi. It was a sad commentary on Advani, who has been an iconic leader since the Ayodhya Movement. Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj expressed anguish over the incident. Advani has the unrivalled distinction of being associated with the first Jan Sangh National Executive held over 60 years ago. Jan Sangh was started on October 21, 1951 and was the earlier incarnation of BJP. Again, since the inception of the BJP on April 6, 1980, Advani never missed its National Executive meetings. Initially, Advani was to take the regular commercial flight to Goa, but later decided to fly by a chartered plane. Sources stated that on Saturday morning, Advani finally decided to skip Goa. Playing it down, BJP President Rajnath Singh informed the BJP National Executive that he has advised Advani not to strain himself by travelling to Goa but to take rest, keeping in view his health condition. It remains to be seen, whether Advani will manage to have his way or Rajnath Singh will finally go ahead with the crucial announcement on Modi's elevation that is widely expected to be on Sunday. Rajnath Singh continued his parleys with senior leaders, as many of them are wary of any major announcement in the absence of Advani. For its part, the Advani camp has offered a compromise formula of designating Modi as the campaign committee convener and not as its chairman. As poll panel head, Modi will preside over all the meetings, while on the other hand, if he is named poll panel convener, then the BJP President will preside over its meetings. A battle of nerves is still on. Enough hints were available during the day to suggest the impending elevation of Modi. Rajnath Singh told the delegates that when they depart on Sunday, they will leave with "new confidence, energy and enthusiasm." He was signalling the big announcement of anointing Modi. Besides, BJP Spokesman Prakash Javadekar remarked Modi is expected to deliver a special address (visesh sambodhan) at the conclave on Sunday. Hinting at the imminent change, Javadekar went on to add that when there is "change of season," some people are bound to fall ill. However, as if to rebuff this, senior BJP leader and former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said, "I do not have NaMonia. I am in perfect health. I am hale and healthy and yet if I am not going to Goa, there can be other reasons for it." Sources say the party has taken a calculated risk to disregard Advani and opt for Modi, seen as the Hindutva icon, since he has tremendous appeal for the middle-class, youth, women and corporates and is capable of boosting the party vote share significantly to help it storm back to power. The Sangh calculation is that since Modi is seen as a polarizing figure, he can mobilise Hindu vote in a big way in favour of the BJP. Sadly for the BJP, it marks the end of an era, as VHP supremo Ashok Singhal, articulating the RSS view, suggested to Advani that he should step aside and pave the way for the younger leaders to move on to party centre stage. Advani can play the role of elder-statesman and guide the party leadership. Singhal went on to suggest that if the younger leaders commit mistakes, they should be allowed to learn from their experience.
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