Lk Advani's 'rath' to roll but not PM ambition

Advani bowed out as RSS made it clear that he can’t be BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

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Senior BJP leader LK Advani’s meeting with RSS chief Mohan Bhawat on Wednesday has set the stage for his rath yatra albeit with a loud and clear message that the question of pitching him as the prime minister candidate in 2014 is out of question.

The strong undercurrents from BJP and RSS sources indicated the mood when they highlighted how Advani declared after the 2009 elections that he would not contest again.

On his part, Advani exercised caution not to answer in yes or no about himself as the PM candidate. He was philosophical trying to delink the yatra from the PM post, hinting that he has achieved more than the post of prime minister in the organisation.

The BJP leaders in Delhi were tight-lipped and refused to be dragged into the issue whether it will be Advani or Narendra Modi as party’s PM candidate.

Advani sought the blessings of Bhagwat to get formal endorsement to his fifth rath yatra beginning October 11, which is a crusade against corruption exposing the Congress-led UPA. Advani said, “I became a swayamsevak of the Sangh, then a member of Jan Sangh and then BJP. I feel what I have got from these organisations, from my colleagues, from the country, is much more than the post of prime minister.”

Highly placed sources in the BJP said, “Advani’s meeting with Bhagwat was significant to dispel the confusion among the cadre on participation in the yatra. Once the RSS has given its nod for the yatra mobilising support within the BJP and swayamsevaks would become easier.”

The meeting also signals that the yatra should be restricted to strengthening the organisation and not positioning for the prime ministerial candidate.

A senior BJP leader who closely mediates with RSS said, “Even if a majority of the second rank leaders in the BJP vote for Advani as the prime minister, the RSS cannot support the move. After all the RSS was instrumental in asking Advani to step down from the BJP presidential post following his remark certifying Pakistan Prime Minister Jinnah as a secular.”

Another dilemma before the BJP is that it cannot portray the 83-year-old Advani against 42-year-old Rahul Gandhi for the PM post. BJP political managers said, “The decision to bring a low profile Nitin Gadkari as party president was to push the generation next to the centre stage.”

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