Narendra Modi reaches out to Advani, Vajpayee as their era ends in BJP

Narendra Modi reaches out to Advani, Vajpayee as their era ends in BJP

The BJP put up a united face today, Mr Advani's sulk notwithstanding.

New Delhi:  It is Narendra Modi's day and he is playing by the book. Minutes after he was named the BJP's candidate for Prime Minister in 2014, he drove the short distance from the BJP headquarters in Delhi to LK Advani's Pandara Road residence. Then, he visited former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The beginning of what is being called the Narendra Modi era in the BJP also marks the end of the Vajpayee-Advani era.  

BJP president Rajnath Singh had said, as he made the Modi announcement after a meeting of top leaders, that the Gujarat Chief Minister would visit Mr Advani soon to "seek his blessings." The party's senior-most leader chose to stay away from the BJP's parliamentary board meeting, expressing disappointment at the way Mr Modi was picked to front the party.

Sushma Swaraj, who too was opposed to her party picking Mr Modi as its presumptive PM but came around to ensure a united party face today, said after the announcement, "I am happy with the decision of the BJP parliamentary board. Modi ji will now visit Advani ji to seek his blessings."

Mr Advani's taut opposition to Mr Modi's nomination right till the end is being seen as the last political gamble that the 85-year-old played. For months he attempted to scuttle the Gujarat Chief Minister's rise in the party. In June, he staged a public protest when Mr Modi was appointed the BJP's election campaign chief, boycotting a key party meeting in Goa.

The irony was lost on few. The last time the party had held such a meeting in Goa, months after the 2002 Gujarat riots, Mr Advani, Mr Modi's mentor, ensured that he did not lose his job.

Former party president Venkaiah Naidu insisted Mr Advani hasn't been sidelined. "Efforts were made to convince him. As a member of a democratic party, he made his stand clear," Mr Naidu said.

Mr Modi's detractors in Congress have accused him of trying to become Prime Minister by polarising the nation. "How strange that in our own country, only by doing polarisation, by chopping the people's head, we want to become the PM," Congress leader Rashid Alvi said today.

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