When L K Advani makes his way to Pune on August 2 to be the guest of honour at the birthday celebrations of Sindhi spiritual leader Dada Vaswani,he can be pardoned for not being in the same festive spirit as years gone by.
The BJP patriarch may be right in feeling miffed,for his visit will come in the wake of pet peeve Narendra Modi,who paid a well-publicised though unexpected visit to the Dada at the Sadhu Vaswani Mission in Pune on July 14.
The mission has been acknowledged as Advanis territory for decades,and the significance of Modis trip there was perhaps lost as it came in the midst of the controversy over his puppy remarks concerning the Gujarat 2002 riots and his swipe at the Congresss burqa of secularism.
The one-hour function saw open camaraderie between Modi and Dada,with the Sindhi spiritual head showering generous praise and blessings on the Gujarat CM,calling him a doer and saying there was a lot to learn from the qualities of dedication and devotion in Modis life. Modi on his part returned all the compliments and said that the way Dada has described him is what he must become.
The next day the Dada was even more effusive,telling Modi in a tweet You came,you saw,you conquered.
According to a local BJP leader,when the invitation was sent out by the mission to Modi a month ago,he wasted no time accepting. Two other functions were planned later in the city to couch the significance of this meeting,but just. While it was Modis first visit to the Sadhu Vaswani Mission,Advani has been a regular visitor since decades and has reason to believe his favourite status. If Dada has often called the BJP partriarch my brother,Advani had in October 2010 described a visit to the mission as like coming to Ayodhya to meet Lord Ram to get his darshan.
In 2009,the Sindi spiritual leader had been the one to inaugurate the Marathi translation of Advanis book My Country,My Life in Pune.
The Sadhu Vaswani Mission has a strong base among the Sindhi community in the country. Amid the tussle for supremacy within the BJP,thats not lost on Modi,and certainly not on Advani.
Sunanda is Editor,Pune