As the Congress targeted the BJP for replacing veteran LK Advani with party chief Amit Shah as its candidate from Gujarat's Gandhinagar, the defence was fervent. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said Mr Shah was the man behind Mr Advani's success in all the elections he contested from the BJP stronghold.
"Amit Shah was the man behind Advani's success in every election. He was the in-charge of the seat," Mr Javadekar told news agency IANS.
Mr Javadekar's statement came a day after the BJP announced Mr Shah as the candidate from the Gujarat constituency as it released its first list of 184 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections set to begin on April 11. Mr Advani, 91, who has served as union home minister and deputy prime minister, has won from Gandhinagar six times since 1998.
"Advani used to travel throughout the election campaign but it was Shah who ensured his landslide victory every time," Mr Javadekar added.
State BJP leaders had also demanded that Shah contest from Gandhinagar. The BJP had sent observers on March 16 to seek the opinion of party workers and leaders in Gandhinagar, and most of them favoured Mr Shah, party leader Nimaben Acharya told news agency PTI.
The Congress had earlier slammed the BJP for not including Mr Advani's name in the party's first list.
"An outstanding parliamentarian like LK Advani will be replaced by Taripar Amit Shah. Now, people are clear that BJP is only run by Amit Shah," Congress leader PL Punia told news agency ANI.
Relegated to the "Marg Darshak Mandal (guidance committee)" along with a number of other veterans after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah led the BJP to its biggest win in 2014, Thursday's announcement of excluding Mr Advani from the list appeared to be the end the road in electoral politics for the party patriarch.
The BJP had earlier said that while nobody over the age of 75 years will get a ministerial position, it was up to party veterans such as Mr Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, 84, to contest the elections.
Both Mr Advani and Mr Joshi had emerged victorious in the 2014 elections but were left out of PM Modi's cabinet.
Mr Advani was said to be keen on the Lok Sabha Speaker's position but was passed over for Sumitra Mahajan. Two other veterans, Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti, have opted out of the election citing health reasons.
Credited for orchestrating the BJP's rise in the late 80s and 90s along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee after it won only two Lok Sabha seats in 1984.
The Lok Sabha polls will be held in seven phases across the country from April 11. The votes will be counted on May 23.