After months of apparent unease between Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and his mentor, BJP patriarch LK Advani, the duo spent Wednesday together in Ahmedabad.
In the statement that attracted the loudest cheer from the audience at the inaugural ceremony of Institute of Infrastructure Technology, Research & Management (IIT-RAM) building in Khokhra, Advani said: “We will be happy if Narendrabhai becomes PM if party comes to power in 2014.” The statement also garnered a reaction from Modi as he smiled and folded his hands – a gesture to thank people for the applauding support.
Observers in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while welcoming Advani’s comments about Modi as a certain morale booster for the cadre, said there is no thaw in the frosty equations between the political heavyweights – particularly from Advani’s side.
“Modi was making attempts to warm up to Advani, but was getting cold-shouldered. Even as they travelled in the same car and sat next to each other on the dais, the ease in conversation and camaraderie wasn’t same as earlier,” said a party worker, who has seen the duo through the years.
“The fact that Advani had come here was indication enough he would praise Modi. We were expecting it and it is good for the cadre; a right message has been sent. The buzz in BJP circles, however, is he unlikely to contest from Gandhinagar LS seat in 2014. In fact, he may not contest at all,” said a senior BJP functionary from Gujarat.
Advani, who also spoke of the ‘efficient government’ when Atal Behari Vajpayee was PM, lambasted UPA II for its inability to tackle high inflation, protect women in country and even peacefully formTelangana . Advani and Modi’s equations have soured after he realised he is facing stiff competition from the protégé.
Protesting Modi’s elevation as BJP’s election campaign committee chief, Advani had in June written a letter resigning from party posts in June this year but withdrew the letter after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) intervened.
He didn’t attend the party’s parliamentary board meeting last month, where Modi was declared BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. On Wednesday morning, Modi and Advani also met former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel at the meeting of Somnath Temple Trust. In the afternoon, Advani inaugurated a garden on Sabarmati Riverfront.