L K Advani stays away but Rajnath under pressure to anoint Narendra Modihttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/l-k-advani-stays-away-but-rajnath-under-pressure-to-anoint-narendra-modi/

L K Advani stays away but Rajnath under pressure to anoint Narendra Modi

Protests outside Advani's house in Delhi; late-night talks on to bring party veteran on board

With BJP president Rajnath Singh under pressure to announce Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s appointment as the party’s campaign committee chief on Sunday,back-channel negotiations continued till late on Saturday to get party patriarch L K Advani on board.

Singh was learnt to have made another attempt to contact Advani through an intermediary,who reportedly conveyed the party chief’s decision to go ahead with the announcement tomorrow. But Advani,who skipped the party’s national executive meeting here today,stuck to his ground that he had no objection,but again insisted that a parallel “election management committee” must also be announced.

All eyes are now on Singh — will he go so far as to snub Advani by making Modi the party’s lone campaign face for the 2014 polls?

Singh,on his part,hinted at such an announcement on Sunday. “He has told delegates that they will go back to their states tomorrow with new energy,new confidence and new enthusiasm,” said party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar,while briefing reporters on Singh’s inaugural speech,indicating some kind of announcement to address the popular sentiment in favour of Modi.

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While Advani’s absence is being seen as a last-ditch attempt to put pressure on Singh against appointing Modi without formally discussing the issue at the party’s parliamentary board meeting,party sources said a section of the RSS has mounted pressure on the party chief to make an announcement.

“(RSS point person) Suresh Soni ka hukm hai Rajnath ko ghoshna karne ke liye. Bahut spasht nirdesh hai ki karna hai,Advani ho ya na ho. Ab adhyakshaji ko hi tai karna hai (Suresh Soni has clearly ordered Rajnath to make the announcement,with or without Advani. Now the party chief has to decide),” confided a senior party source. Soni was believed to have been instrumental in Singh’s appointment as party president earlier this year,when Advani’s objections forced Nitin Gadkari to forfeit his second consecutive term as party president.

Sangh Parivar sources also said that RSS number two Bhaiyyaji Joshi,who was in the National Capital Region for a RSS training programme,got in touch with Advani today. But they claimed that he only asked about his health and did not inform him about any RSS directive regarding Singh’s proposed move.

Stating that the onus was now on Singh,party leaders pointed out that the announcement,if it happens,will amount to isolating Advani,who had sought a parallel “election management committee”.

While Singh is learnt to have rejected Advani’s suggestion for a parallel committee,he has not personally communicated the decision to him. Nor has he personally informed Advani about any announcement on Modi.

In his inaugural address today,Singh simply told delegates that he had spoken to Advani and inquired about his health,informing them that the party veteran would be skipping the meeting due to his “ill-health”.

Party leaders said Singh now faces the choice of asserting his authority as party president over Advani. The BJP chief is learnt to have held informal discussions separately with parliamentary board members today. Senior party sources said some members advised against making an announcement in Advani’s absence,even as they gave their consent for Modi’s projection as the party’s campaign committee chief.

Even as Modi’s supporters hold that “it has to happen,with you (Advani),without you or inspite of you”,Advani loyalists have refrained from mounting any pressure. Although Yashwant Sinha skipped the Goa meet today,he said,“I don’t have ‘NaMonia’. I am in perfect health. But there could be other reasons for not going to Goa,because of which I have not gone there.

Uma Bharti,who also stayed away,sent a letter to Singh,stating,“I am with you in all decisions. You have my support for any decision you make at Goa.”

Meanwhile,a clutch of protestors today staged a demonstration outside Advani’s residence in the capital demanding Modi’s appointment. Party leaders here were swift to condemn the development,asserting that the protestors were “not associated” with the party.

While Singh today announced that a separate “central booth management committee” would be set up to coordinate the party’s electoral preparations,Advani loyalists claimed that this was not what the party veteran had meant when he demanded an “election management committee” alongside a Modi-led campaign committee.

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With back-channel parleys still going on,party leaders said the situation remaines fluid and depends on the negotiations through the night.