Mumbai, May 25: Despite a new found bonhomie between Narendra Modi and Nitin Gadkari, differences in BJP seem to be far from over at its National Executive meeting here on Friday with leaders L.K. Advani and Sushama Swaraj set to stay away from a rally scheduled for this evening.
“Advani's schedule was fixed earlier so he won't be there and Swaraj has to attend a programme in Ghaziabad tomorrow morning,” party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said downplaying their absence at the rally which has been organised to project BJP as a vibrant party leading the NDA, which is ready to take on the UPA.
Modi and Gadkari are set to be the star speakers at the rally with a senior leader remarking that their bonhomie has upset other senior leaders, including Advani and Swaraj.
With Gadkari smoking the peace pipe with Modi on Thursday, the equations in the BJP appear to be undergoing a change and leaders are considering the way ahead in the changed scenario.
The absence of Advani and Swaraj at the rally is also being seen in this backdrop.
With the NDA expecting to get a boost due to the recent developments, including the petroleum price hike, a section of the party claims that Gadkari and Modi could jointly call the shots against their interest.
Interestingly, Advani was not present on Thursday at the National Executive when the resolution to amend the party constitution to allow a second term to Mr. Gadkari was passed.
Party leaders said that the BJP veteran had gone to meet an ailing relative in the city.
BJP spokespersons acted as frantic spinmeisters as news channels flashed reports about Advani staying away from the rally.
Party spokesperons Ravi Shankar Prasad and Nirmala Seetharaman urged the media not to play up such reports and said that Advani's programme was pre-decided.
"I am really disappointed with the media for reporting this. Advaniji's programme was pre-decided", said Ravi Shankar Prasad.