The BJP’s crucial meet, which is likely to set the agenda for the party ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, is starting on an uneasy note with the absence of senior leader L K Advani.
However, party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said, “There are no differences in the party.”
He also downplayed questions that Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had expressed unhappiness over Advani’s absence and had insisted that he be given due respect. “It’s a strange information,” Trivedi said dismissively.
Advani’s absence from the office-bearers’ meeting is also seen in the context that it may be too early for the party to gloss over his role. The BJP may find it difficult to move ahead without keeping his wishes in mind and transition of power may not be easy for the saffron party.
It is not just Advani whose absence is exposing chinks in the party’s unity. Senior leader from MP Uma Bharti too informed BJP president Rajnath Singh that she will not be attending as she was unwell. Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha and general secretaries Varun Gandhi and Ravi Shankar Prasad also will not attend for various reasons.
Gandhi and Prasad are said to be travelling and out of the country. Sinha may join on Saturday.“This is not a big thing. Over 300 people are attending,” Trivedi reiterated.
However, host Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar did not mask his feelings over who his favourite guest was. He proclaimed that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi be made the prime ministerial candidate as it would help the party win the elections. His government went all out to portray the message. The Goa BJP’s welcome advertisements in newspapers had Rajnath and Modi as the main protagonists, while other senior leaders with smaller photos were in the supporting role.
Keeping in mind Goa’s festive image, all roads leading to the venue have been decked with cutouts of the party leaders.