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Advani upset with spoilers within ranks

A Correspondent in New Delhi | January 14, 2009 20:18 IST

Leader of the Opposition Lal Kishanchand Advani [Images] on Wednesday appeared upset over the increasing questions being asked about his eligibility as the prime ministerial candidate.

First, former vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat questioned the policy of naming a candidate before the elections and usurping the MPs' right to elect a leader.

Now, party vice-president and former Uttar Pradesh [Images] chief minister Kalyan Singh has questioning the anti-terror plank on which Advani wants to lead the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

Even before the BJP leadership could respond to Singh's surprise attack with the charge that the National Democratic Alliance's track record on fighting terror was poor, Advani was further embarrassed to see his own prot�g� Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi [Images] being projected as a possible prime ministerial candidate. He, however, chose to keep mum on Modi.

Though Modi has himself not come forward and staked claim, BJP leaders see industrialists, who have gathered in Ahmedabad [Images] for a global investment summit, batting for him as an indication of a line of thought that Modi can be better than Advani.

It, however, fell on BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad to stress that the credit should go to Advani for so many industrialists latching on to Modi. "The industrialists seeing in Modi the future prime minister is a matter of pride for the BJP. Modi is successful only because of the inspirational leadership of Advani," Prasad said.

Everyone at the gathering was, however, talking about Modi's magnetism and wondering how long the party seniors will be able to keep him away from the national politics, reflecting how Anil Ambani [Images] called him the next leader who can transform India and Bharti Airtel's [Get Quote] Sunil Mittal hailing him as India's CEO.

Kalyan Singh's outburst was also a subject of discussion in the BJP as he has challenged the very basic twin planks of terrorism and inflation on which the party wants to go to polls.

"Yes, he is right when he asks how the BJP can blame the United Progressive Alliance government for not acting against Pakistan when its own NDA government pussyfooted after the attack on Parliament," a leader said.

Others blamed the party's state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh for Singh's outburst. Both he and BJP President Rajnath Singh are from Uttar Pradesh. His basic grouse is that he was not kept in the loop and Rajnath Singh went on announcing the Lok Sabha candidates from UP without consulting him, it is said.

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