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BJP hints at yielding to Advani's choice of Bhopal

Chennai/New Delhi, Mar 20 (PTI): The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday gave indications of yielding to patriarch L.K. Advani by allowing him to contest from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh and not Gandhinagar in Gujarat, the party’s choice.

BJP president Rajnath Singh said Advani should choose where to contest.

“It is up to Advani-ji to choose from where he wants to contest,” Singh told a press conference in Chennai when asked to comment on Advani's unwillingness to contest from Gandhinagar in Gujarat as decided by the party’s central election committee on Wednesday.

While Advani, 86, has represented Gandhinagar five times in the Lok Sabha, this time he wants to contest from Bhopal reportedly because of his unease with Gujarat’s chief minister Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Advani, a former deputy prime minister, had opposed Modi’s anointment as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Singh said that after the decision, on a proposal from the Gujarat unit that Advani contest from Gandhinagar, he had received a proposal from Madhya Pradesh unit inviting Advani to contest from Bhopal.

“Then I left this option to Advani as to which is the seat from where he would like to contest from -- Gandhinagar or Bhopal,” he said.

The statement by Singh, who is likely to meet Advani on Thursday night in Delhi after his return from Chennai, has raised hopes of resolving the problem that the party has encountered since Wednesday.

The election committee, headed by Singh, decided to field Advani from Gandhinagar, angering Advani, who wanted to shift to Bhopal.

Since then, the party had been trying to placate Advani, with even Modi driving to his residence on Thursday morning. Subsequently, some other leaders, including Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu also met Advani.

Modi also met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat here on Wednesday night after which some RSS leaders are believed to have talked to Advani as well as Rajnath Singh.

The BJP President said there is no confusion in the party on the issue at all. “All things which are coming (in the press) are absolutely imaginary,” he said.

The issue had figured in the meetings of BJP's Parliamentary Board as well Central Election Committee which were attended by Singh and Modi. Advani skipped both of the meetings.

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 has said he is not keen on contesting from the seat and he had offered the seat to the BJP patriarch.


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