NEW DELHI: The BJP leadership on Wednesday night tried to placate LK Advani who expressed his displeasure over the party’s decision to field him from Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency despite his desire to shift to Bhopal.
Senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari met Advani at his residence and spent about 45 minutes in their bid to persuade the BJP veteran who is reluctant to contest from Gandhinagar and instead wanted to be fielded from Bhopal.
After meeting Advani, both Swaraj and Gadkari went to BJP president Rajnath Singh’s house where they conveyed the party patriarch’s unhappiness over the central election committee’s decision against his wishes.
During their meeting with Rajnath, RSS leader Suresh Soni was also present, sources said.
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi also met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat soon after the CEC meeting ended, to clear the air over Advani’s candidature and use his good offices to resolve the issue.
Advani is understood to have conveyed to the party leadership his desire to exercise his option of selecting a seat for himself, like many other BJP leaders have done.
The BJP patriarch is of the view that just as the party has fielded Modi from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, Arun Jaitley from Punjab and Rajnath Singh from Lucknow, he be fielded along with Swaraj from Madhya Pradesh to help the BJP “maximise the gains” in the area.
He has also questioned the CEC’s decision to accept the proposal from Gujarat to field him from Gandhinagar and not considering a similar proposal from Madhya Pradesh unit of the party to field him from Bhopal.
Advani has made his displeasure clear to the party leadership which is now finding it difficult to prevail over him and put an end to the unseemly controversy over his choice constituency.
The unease between Narendra Modi and L K Advani took a new turn with the BJP patriarch insisting that he would contest from Bhopal and not Gandhinagar in Gujarat which he has represented five times in the Lok Sabha.
The 86-year-old former deputy Prime Minister conveyed to party chief Rajnath Singh that he should have the right to choose his constituency as most of the other senior party leaders have been allocated their preferred seats.
The issue figured in the meetings of BJP’s parliamentary board as well central election committee which were attended by Singh and Modi. Advani skipped both the meetings.
Advani has said he has no problems in contesting from Gandhinagar as such but was keen on contesting from Bhopal as he considered it a safer seat, the sources said.
His desire to shift from Gandhinagar may be seen as a reflection of the unease in his relationship with Modi.
Advani is not in the best of terms with Modi after he opposed Gujarat chief minister’s anointment as BJP’s PM candidate recently.
Advani has represented Gandhinagar in the 10th Lok Sabha (1991-96), 12th Lok Sabha (1998-99), 13th Lok Sabha (1999-2004), 14th Lok Sabha (2004-09) and the current 15th Lok Sabha (2009-14).
Sitting Bhopal MP and BJP veteran Kailash Joshi today said he is not keen on contesting from the seat and he had offered the seat to the BJP patriarch.