New Delhi, Sept 30: After alleging that there were dissensions in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Cabinet, BJP today found itself in the same predicament with its senior leaders Narendra Modi, B S Yeddyurappa and Ramesh Pokhriyal keeping away from the party's national executive meet here.
The Gujarat Chief Minister did not turn up at the conclave here despite BJP President Nitin Gadkari stating yesterday that the party is trying to convince him to attend.
Very few would buy the argument that Modi is fasting for Navratra and hence unable to participate.
He has kept away as he is unhappy with senior leader L K Advani's Jan Chetna Yatra for good governance and clean politics, sources said. He had reportedly told Advani that the yatra is “unnecessary and irrelevant”.
Modi, who is said to be gearing up to become BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in the next polls, sees Advani's yatra as the latter's attempt to be in the fray.
Modi's disagreement led Advani to shift the starting point of his yatra to Sitabdiara in Bihar. BJP top brass tried to downplay Modi's absence. “It is not true that Modi is unhappy. He fasts during Navratra and so is not attending the national executive,” BJP Chief Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Modi is also sulking due to the re-induction of his political adversary Sanjay Joshi into the party fold. Though Joshi has been brought in informally and his profile is low-key in comparison to his earlier role as General Secretary (Organisation), this has not gone down well with Modi.
To add to the woes of the Advani camp, some leaders have even said Modi would make “the best Prime Minister in the history of the country”.
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Balbir Punj, who is believed to be close to the Gujarat Chief Minister, said “If he (Modi) gets a chance, he will prove to be the best prime minister in the history of the country.” Punj is BJP incharge of Gujarat.
Asked if Modi or Advani would become a better Prime Minister, Punj said, “I do not know this. I will not make any comparisons. That the people of the nation will decide.” Prasad also described Modi as “very capable and competent Chief Minister who is praised not only in India but abroad as well”.
Asked who would be BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, Prasad took an apparent dig at Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, saying, “We have a galaxy of leaders. We are not dependent on one Yuvaraj (crown prince).” Yeddyurappa, who had grudgingly stepped down from the post of Karnataka Chief Minister recently after the Lokayukta indicted him in a land allotment case, has also kept away from the conclave.
While the official reasons cited for his absence are by-elections in Karnataka and his wife's death anniversary today, sources said he is unhappy with his removal and his weakening hold on the state government.
Ex-Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, who has been replaced by B C Khanduri after increasing cases of corruption in his government, was also absent today. His unhappiness may harm BJP in the forthcoming Assembly polls.
However, BJP maintained there is no dissension within.
“Infighting is there in the Congress and not in our party,” senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi said, while BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain insisted “there is no clash”.
Balbir Punj said, Narendra Modi will “prove to be the best prime minister in the history of the country”. “If he gets a chance, he will prove to be the best prime minister in the history of the country,” Punj, who is incharge of party's affairs in Gujarat, told reporters on the sidelines of the BJP national executive meet.
To a poser who between Modi and L K Advani would become a better Prime Minister, Punj said, “I do not know this. I will not make any comparisons. That the people of the nation will decide.”
Punj downplayed Modi's absence from the meet saying he was busy in Navratra Puja.
“Whatsoever has been appearing about Narendra Modi not coming to Delhi is just speculation. All such reports are absolutely baseless. He is busy with the Navratra Puja. As a result he has decided to remain in Ahmedabad,” he said.
However, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, the party was proud to have several capable contenders for the Prime Minister's post and it was the party parliamentary board which will finalize the prime ministerial candidate. PTI