New Delhi: A little before 9 this morning, Narendra Modi visited the residence of senior BJP leader LK Advani, who served the party with its latest crisis last night by refusing to accept its decision that he contest the general elections from Gandhinagar in Gujarat again. He left nearly 40 minutes later.
Mr Advani is the sitting MP from Gandhinagar, a seat he has held for the last 16 years straight, but the BJP's senior-most leader has made it clear that he wants to contest from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh this time.
Mr Advani has reportedly asked senior party leaders who have been trying to bring him around since last night, why he cannot have his choice of seat when the wishes of other top leaders like Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi to contest key constituencies in Uttar Pradesh have been accommodated by the party.
Mr Modi's effort this morning to convince Mr Advani is one of a series of meetings that began last night as the party pushed the emergency button after the 87-year-old conveyed his deep displeasure to Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari.
"Nitin Gadkari and Sushma Swaraj met LK Advani to convey the BJP poll panel decision, but LK Advani made it clear that his first choice was Bhopal," a top BJP leader said.
The party has promised Mr Advani that Mr Modi will help him win Gandhinagar, but Mr Advani is said to be worried about how much support he will get from local party workers in Mr Modi's Gujarat, given his public protest last year against the BJP's decision to elevate Mr Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.
The decision to field Mr Advani from Gandhinagar and not Bhopal was taken at a party meeting yesterday, where Mr Modi reportedly insisted that Mr Advani must return to his Gujarat seat. Leaders close to Mr Modi have argued that if Mr Advani moves out of Gandhinagar, Mr Modi's political opponents will attack him over such a senior leader's discomfiture at contesting from his state.
Madhya Pradesh has as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, seen as someone Mr Advani is close to and trusts. Advani posters sprang up in Bhopal this week in anticipation of his contesting from there, but BJP leaders from the state denied that they have petitioned the party to field him from the state capital.