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Advani silences RS buzz

Advani

New Delhi, Jan. 27: L.K. Advani appears to have poured cold water on a party lobby’s hopes that he may be persuaded to move to the Rajya Sabha on account of his age, removing a potential thorn for Narendra Modi.

“If I had to consider the proposal, I would have done it earlier,” the 86-year-old told reporters yesterday, seemingly confirming a move in the BJP to have him “kicked upstairs”.

Party sources said the new leadership under Modi and Rajnath Singh had long been toying with the idea of getting seniors aged above 75, such as Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, to shift to the House of Elders.

None among the current brass, however, dared broach the matter before a man whose patronage had powered their rise up the ranks, the sources said. The idea was then floated in the media to gauge the party patriarch’s mood.

On Saturday, BJP corridors buzzed with speculation but no leader of any standing would either confirm or deny it. “There’s a possibility; let’s see if Advaniji accepts it,” was all a senior would hazard.

The RSS, too, has long been suggesting to the BJP that leaders above 75 should make way for the next generation and act as the new leaders’ “advisers”.

But most among the Sangh brass, including chief Mohan Bhagwat, are Advani’s juniors and balked at directly asking him to “retire” from contesting Lok Sabha elections.

Modi would have been the biggest beneficiary had Advani accepted the proposal. The veteran is still believed to be opposed to Modi’s anointment as prime ministerial candidate, and is expected to throw his hat in the ring if the BJP fails to cobble a majority.

Advani has in the past been on record that the Prime Minister should be from the Lok Sabha and not the Rajya Sabha.

The idea behind the proposal to get Joshi to shift to the upper House was to free up the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat for Modi.

The Gujarat chief minister is keen to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for more seats than any other state, and is believed to be eyeing Joshi’s constituency of Varanasi.

Sources close to Modi and Rajnath, however, denied that either of them had floated the proposal. The sources accused Advani of having himself put out the buzz in the media so he could deny it later and stub out the possibility of any such move being launched in the party.