LK Advani did not attend a meeting of senior BJP leaders at party president Nitin Gadkari's home in Delhi on Thursday evening. The session was organised partly to assess the impact of the countrywide "Bharat Bandh" called by the BJP, its allies and the Left to protest against last week's hike in petrol prices, the steepest in the country's history.
Mr Advani's growing and public differences with Mr Gadkari found new expression in the veteran's blog on Thursday morning. He took a clear aim at Mr Gadkari, who was just granted a second consecutive term of three years, through a change in the party's constitution enacted at last week's Mumbai gathering of the BJP's national executive. Referring to recent crises that resulted from Mr Gadkari's unpopular decisions, he writes, "The mood within the party these days is not upbeat. The results in Uttar Pradesh, the manner in which the party welcomed BSP Ministers who were removed by Mayawati ji on charges of corruption, the party's handling of Jharkhand and Karnataka - all these events have undermined the party's campaign against corruption."
Mr Advani, one of the party's senior-most leaders, did not attend a rally that was held as a show of unity after the national executive in Mumbai. The party said he had prior engagements, an excuse bought by nobody.
In his blog, Mr Advani also offers a grim assessment of his party's vital stats. In July, the BJP hopes to put up a strong fight against the ruling UPA in the election for the next President of India. (Read blog)
Later this year, BJP-ruled states like Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh will vote for their next government. These will test voter mood ahead of the general election in 2014. "When these days media-persons attack the UPA Government for its string of scams, but at the same time regret that the BJP led NDA is not rising to the occasion, I as a former pressman myself, feel they are reflecting public opinion correctly," Mr Advani blogs. "That the party is in power in as many as nine states today is no compensation for the lapses committed. I had said at the Core Group meeting that if people are today angry with the U.P.A. Government, they are also disappointed with us. The situation, I said, calls for introspection," he adds in warning.
In January, ahead of the state elections in UP, Mr Gadkari had welcomed to the BJP Babu Singh Kushwaha, a minister who had been fired by then chief minister Mayawati for alleged graft. Mr Kushwaha's entry upset Mr Advani and others like Sushma Swaraj. His membership was eventually put on hold.
In Karnataka, the BJP has not been able to check the enthusiasm of BS Yeddyurappa for announcing his intent to return as head of the party's only government in the South. Mr Yeddyurappa was removed last year after he was indicted in a report on illegal mining. In recent months, he has championed his reinstatement by threatening to split the party -not an empty threat, given his large camp of supporters. Mr Advani, during a tour of Karnataka, refused to share the stage with Mr Yeddyurappa. Meanwhile, Mr Gadkari has been negotiating with the dissident leader to remain within the BJP.
Last night, Mr Gadkari and Mr Modi attended the Bangalore wedding of Mr Yeddyurappa's grand-daughter. Mr Advani did not.