BJP stalwart L.K. Advani is neither supporting nor undermining any party leader, many of whom he and Atal Bihari Vajpayee have hand-held and nurtured into becoming political leaders of today, BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Thursday.
Naqvi, who was speaking to reporters at the Bharatiya Janata Party state headquarters in Panaji, also said that the party was united in its agenda to uproot the corrupt United Progressive Alliance government (UPA) and that the strategic course set during the key three-day meeting of the national executive and the office bearers here June 7-9 would convince detractors of the party's unity.
"He (Advani) and Atalji have nurtured the BJP by making a lot of sacrifices. Their contribution cannot be forgotten by us. They have hand-held the present leadership. If someone is under the misconception that Advaniji is supporting or opposing someone then they should dispel it," Naqvi said, trying to put an end to the controversy which started some days back, after Advani praised the governance skills and humility of Shivraj Singh Chauhan, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and senior BJP leader.
Advani's remarks came amidst the clamour within the party, as well as not-so-subtle moves by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to project himself as the party's prime ministerial candidate.
Naqvi denied the talk of rift within the party, claiming that the BJP leadership was united and had a common agenda: To oust the corrupt, misgoverning Congress from power.
"The party is united, is one, and will work unitedly to uproot corruption and malgovernance from the country. Whether it's Advaniji, Narendra Modiji or Rajnath Singhji, every leader of the party is united. There is no confusion. And after the national executive, when you see the programmes which follow, the Congress will stop misunderstanding," Naqvi said.
Naqvi dodged questions when asked if the three-day Goa meet would end up finalising Modi's name as the campaign in-charge for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
"The meeting will take decisions on different issues. When they are decided we will communicate (them) to you," Naqvi said.
He, however, said that Modi was not just a popular leader within the BJP, but for the entire country too. "He is a leader by performance and good governance. He has made a place for himself in the country. That is a matter of pride for us."
'Ayodhya issue not a priority for LS polls'
The BJP today said that the Ayodhya issue is very much on the party's agenda, but has not been considered as a priority while chalking out strategy for the next Lok Sabha polls.
"We never said Ayodhya is not on our agenda. But as far as priority is concerned, the issues like price rise, corruption, bad governance top it," BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters here, ahead of the party's National Executive meeting.
"We are honest as far as our ideological commitment (on temple issue) is concerned. But, in Goa we would be discussing the political issues," the leader said responding to a question.
Bharatiya Janata Party's three-day National Executive would be held in Goa from tomorrow to decide strategy for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Predicting that Lok Sabha elections might happen this year, Naqvi said that the National Executive will discuss the issues related to politics and internal security of the country by passing various resolutions.
"The party will take ground level feedback on various issues," he said.
Coalition not a compulsion, but "religion"
The BJP today said that the coalition for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls is not a compulsion for the party, but it is a "religion".
To a query, the party also said that there is no pressure from NDA partners to keep away Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the next parliamentary polls.
"Coalition is not a compulsion for us. We have proved the credibility and stability of coalition during our erstwhile tenure. We consider alliance as a religion," BJP national vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters here.
The BJP is all set to hold its office bearers' and National Executive meeting in Goa from tomorrow onwards.
Naqvi recalled that different question marks were raised when NDA came to power under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"But we proved our credibility and stability by running the government through common minimum programme and agenda for development," he added.
Naqvi said that the NDA alliance will be stronger and would be expanded in the coming days.
"We will inform you at the right time (about the expansion of NDA)," the BJP leader stated.
Responding to a question, Naqvi said there is no pressure from any alliance partner to keep away Modi during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
"There is absolutely no pressure on us from the coalition partners," he said.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had earlier expressed his reservations over projecting Modi as the prime ministerial candidate.
'Gujarat results reflect ground reality'
The BJP said Thursday that its sweeping victory in Gujarat, where it wrested all six Lok Sabha and state assembly seats from the Congress, reflected the ground reality.
Speaking to the media, BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi made fun of the "Bharat Nirman" advertising blitzkrieg as an imaginary bubble created by the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Naqvi was speaking ahead of a three-day meeting of the party's national office bearers and national executive.
"If they do not know ground reality, they should take into account yesterday's results and understand for themselves," Naqvi said.
"This is not Bharat Nirman. This is Bhrashtachar Nirman. And its slogan 'meelon chalna hai, meelon chalenge' is actually 'we have looted millions and we will loot more millions'," Naqvi said.
The spokesperson refused to draw comparisons between 'Bharat Nirman' and 'India Shining', a good governance advertising campaign launched by BJP ahead of the 2004 polls which the party lost.