BJP leader L K Advani, on his 85th birthday on Thursday, said that what he had got from the the party was more than occupying the prime ministerial position.
As a steady stream of visitors led by party chief Nitin Gadkari greeted Advani, he was asked about the “party’s gift to him” on his birthday.
Turning philosophical, Advani said: “The party has given me a lot. A lot of people say I aspire to be the PM... Tell me, is it bigger than what the party has given me?”
While stopping short of categorically ruling himself out of the prime ministerial race, Advani’s statement was read variously in the party. It was debated if Advani, who had turned ambitious lately, was resigned to the role of a mentor in the party, while some argued that the pressure of the RSS was at play. Meanwhile, the entire BJP leadership and a large number of party workers queued up at Advani’s residence, since morning, to greet him.
Gadkari was among the early visitors and he touched Advani’s feet and greeted him. Opposition leaders in Parliament Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley soon followed.
Sushma later said that the second-rung leadership of the party had learnt the art of politics at the feet of Advani, and “hence they wished him a long life so that he could continue to guide them”.
Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar added that for the BJP family “Atalji and Advaniji will always remain the source of inspiration”.
Former BJP president Rajnath Singh, Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, former Uttarakhand CM B C Khanduri and BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad also greeted Advani.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh wished him over phone.
The President, the Vice-President, and the Prime Minister also greeted the BJP leader on his birthday. Union ministers Sharad Pawar and Kamal Nath, and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav also wished Advani over phone.