The BJP on Wednesday night decided to field L K Advani from his Gandhinagar constituency in Gujarat, overruling his desire to shift to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh reflecting the strain between him and Narendra Modi. According to the party candidate list, Modi would contest from Vadodara — his second seat apart from Varanasi.
Advani stayed away from the BJP’s parliamentary board and Central Election Committee meeting signalling uneasy equations within the party’s top leadership over seat selection.
Though the BJP, after its marathon meeting, asked Advani to stick to his existing seat as otherwise it could dent Modi’s image, it sent a message that all was not well in the party. As Advani skipped the meeting, party president Rajnath Singh called him and asked him to contest from Gandhinagar. Late in the night, Advani conveyed his displeasure to party leaders over fielding him from Gandhinagar.
Sources said Advani had informed the party that we was willing to contest from Bhopal as insisted by leaders in the State. Sitting MP Kailash Joshi had offered his seat to Advani welcoming him to Madhya Pradesh. Advani’s wish to shift to Bhopal also stems from the fact that there was a delay in announcing his seat, even though he had declared his intension to contest from there. As there was reluctance on the part of the Gujarat unit and contradictory reports emerged saying it would be difficult for him to retain his seat, it apparently miffed him. It was only on Tuesday that spokesperson Vijay Rupani said the party wanted Advani to contest from Gandhinagar. By that time MP had already offered Bhopal to him. Advani’s shifting to Madhya Pradesh would have created a visible camp in the party, along with CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Sushma Swaraj, who is contesting from Vidisha, as opposed to the trio of Rajnath-Modi-Arun Jaitley.
After the meeting, the BJP declared 67 candidates in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, UP. Prominent faces in the sixth list include: actor and former MP Hema Malini (Mathura), former Congress MP Jagdambika Pal (Domariaganj), and Olympian Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Jaipur Rural).