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Not my protégé: Advani

Advani files his nomination as Modi looks on in Gandhinagar on Saturday. (AFP)

Gandhinagar, April 5: L.K. Advani today refused to call Narendra Modi his protégé or compare him with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, describing him instead as a “brilliant events manager”.

The BJP patriarch was speaking before filing his nomination from Gandhinagar, a seat the party chose for him although he wanted Bhopal.

“I will not call Narendrabhai my protégé, but I have never seen a more brilliant and efficient events manager than him. And this very event management capacity he has brought to governance also. That has made him more suitable for the assignment the party has given him,” Advani said at a public meeting, Modi by his side.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate had minutes earlier described Advani, 86, as his “guide”, and one who had played a crucial role in his political career.

Advani said Modi had proved himself a remarkable leader, not just of the BJP but even as an RSS pracharak. However, he added: “I would not compare, certainly not to Atalji. Atalji was a class by himself. The main ideologue of the party was Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and the person to implement it in governance was Atalji.”

Although Advani is widely seen as Modi’s mentor, relations between the two soured in 2011, in the wake of Modi’s much-hyped sadbhavana fast, when Advani wanted to launch his anti-corruption yatra from Gujarat but was not given the go-ahead and had to start from Bihar.

The differences aggravated after the senior leader quit all party posts and skipped the BJP’s parliamentary board meeting in which Modi was declared the prime ministerial candidate.

Appearing together in a show of unity today, Modi exhorted party workers to ensure Advani wins by a “huge margin”. The chief minister has assigned his two closest aides, Amit Shah and Anandi Patel, to oversee the campaign. In 2009, when Advani was the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, he had won by 1.2 lakh votes.

Advani, who is seeking his seventh term in the Lok Sabha, went to file his nomination accompanied by Modi, Anandi Patel and his aide Deepak Chopra, who suggested that Modi hand over the papers to the returning officer. Modi first urged Advani to give the papers but later relented.

The Gandhinagar MP denied he wanted to shift from the seat this time, recalling that his father had settled in Gujarat after the Partition.

“Our friends from Madhya Pradesh wanted me to contest from Bhopal also. But I have never intended not contesting from Gandhinagar,” Advani said.

Gandhinagar votes on April 30