After months of apparent unease between Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and his mentor BJP patriarch LK Advani, the duo spent the day together in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. In the statement that attracted the loudest cheer from the audience at the inaugural ceremony of the Institute of Infrastructure Technology, Research and Management (IIT-RAM) building at Khokhra in Modi’s constituency, Advani said, “We will be happy if Narendrabhai becomes PM if party comes to power in 2014,”. The statement also got response from Modi as he smiled and folded his hands ‑ a gesture to thank people for their applause and support.
Observers in the party while welcoming Advani’s comments as a certain morale booster for the cadres, noticed that there was no thaw in the frosty equations between the two – especially on Advani’s side. “Even as Modi and Advani travelled in the same car and sat next to each other on the dais, the ease in their conversation and camaraderie was not the same as earlier,” said a party worker who has seen the duo in happier times.
“The fact that Advani had come here was indication enough that he would praise Modi. We were expecting it and it is good for the cadres; the right message has gone. However, the buzz in BJP circles is he is unlikely to contest from Gandhinagar Lok Sabha in 2014. In fact, he may not contest at all,” a senior BJP functionary in Gujarat said.
Advani also lavished praise on Modi for the work done in Gujarat which had brought him accolades not only in the country but also abroad. “When I came here, I asked an institute official if there is any other educational institution in the country where infrastructure is taught as a subject and the answer was no,” Advani said commending Modi’s pursuit of novelty.
“Narendrabhai is always thinking what new he can do, what new initiative he can take,” he said.
In his speech, Modi, referring to Advani’s statement that 2014 would bring about change, said, “Advaniji has said it with confidence, and I trust what Advaniji says...”
Advani, who remembered the ‘efficient government’ when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister, also attacked the UPA II for its inability to tackle high inflation and protect women in the country and for the way it handled the Telangana issue.
Equations between Advani and Modi have soured after the BJP patriarch realised he is facing a stiff competition from his protégé in party politics. Advani had resigned from party posts in June this year protesting Modi’s elevation as BJP’s election campaign committee chief, but withdrew his resignation after the RSS intervened. He did not attend the party’s Parliamentary Board meeting last month where Modi was declared BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
(With inputs from agencies)