Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu had a tough time persuading party elder LK Advani to occupy the seat next to prime minister Narendra Modi, the place where he sat on Wednesday. Advani refused to do so on Thursday morning.
Naidu then asked him to sit in the first row. Advani sat in the first row's far corner, along with Ram Vilas Paswan, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh.
Since the parliamentary affairs minister has a prerogative on seats, Naidu wanted to find a place for Advani in the front row, which is usually meant for cabinet ministers. During the last 10 years, Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was in the front row.
The situation turned piquant when Advani walked into the party's parliamentary office, a room where the party spokespersons usually holds informal interactions with the media. Advani seems to have avoided his own room, which he has been occupying as the BJP's parliamentary party leader and also as the acting chairman of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee remains chairman though he has been ailing for the last few years and he has not taken part in any of the NDA or BJP activities.
Perhaps Advani is aware of the complexity of the situation, and thus remains hesitant to use the room meant for the NDA chairman or sit in the front row of the treasury benches. The name plate of Advani as Working NDA chairman has been duly removed as per his instructions, according to sources.