Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani was not eyeing the prime ministerial post, party president Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday indicating that the former deputy prime minister has already made it clear that he is not in the race.
"Advaniji has himself said that the respect the party has given him is more than the post of the prime minster. What more can I possibly add to it."
Gadkari held a press conference to share details of Advani's 'yatra' which will be flagged-off by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at Sitabdiara, Bihar, on October 11.
In reply to a question, Gadkari said, "This yatra is not for the prime minister's post. This yatra is aimed at clean politics and good governance. The party will support this yatra fully and contribute to making it a success."
He insisted Advani had already made his stand clear on the prime ministership issue soon after meeting Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha chief Mohan Bhagwat during his recent visit to Nagpur.
"What more can I say? Advani has already said what you want to know.... During his visit to Nagpur, he had informed the press that he came to India from Karachi, joined the Jan Sangh... He has said what the party has given him is more than the prime minister's post."
Advani was not present at the press meet.
He said that major scams have cropped up in the past few years, and cumulatively these have damaged the image of the country. "The common man is angry and outraged, and he has also shown his anger in some way by patronising anti- corruption movements by a non-political force recently," said Gadkari.
While Advani's announcement on September 8 that he will take out a yatra had come as a surprise to BJP top brass, his meeting with Bhagwat seems to have allayed apprehensions -- albeit temporarily -- that he is not aiming for the top post.
After a meeting with the party's national office bearers and state organisation general secretaries, Gadkari said the party has decided to make the yatra a big success and will rally all its strength behind it.
Gadkari said Advani will also visit Gujarat during his yatra, scotching reports that Chief Minister Narendra Modi is opposed to his yatra and so he may skip the state.
Gadkari said the yatra will cover 18 states and two Union Territories. Advani, who is an MP from Gandhinagar, is likely to spend three days in Gujarat.
Interestingly, Somnath and Ayodhya are not part of the current route planned by Advani. Gadkari was evasive when asked whether Advani would visit these two places which were the starting and end points of his controversial Ram Rath yatra.
But Advani will visit Varanasi where the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque controversy still simmers.
Gadkari said the yatra is aimed mainly at increasing awareness among people on "growing corruption" under the present government.
Party leaders said Advani will spend one day in the North-East and try to cover Assam and some of the states there. He will fly to some of the destinations.
Though final details of the yatra will be made public after the two-day meeting of BJP national executive starting, party leaders said Advani will spend the maximum number of days in party-ruled Madhya Pradesh.
He will fly to Jammu and Kashmir for a day and also visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands. All the four southern states are likely to be covered. Nagpur, where RSS headquarters are located, also forms part of the schedule.
The yatra will culminate in Delhi on November 20 the eve of the winter session of Parliament -- with a rally, Gadkari said.
On the recent jailing of two former Bharatiya Janta Party MPs, Nitin Gadkari said, "It is tragic for Indian democracy that those people who had exposed the corruption of the government are now behind bars." He further added that the MPs and Sudheendra Kulkarni had acted as whistle-blowers. "Advanji is greatly hurt by this action. He said in Parliament that he fully supported the actions of the three MPs and if they were being jailed, then he too should go to jail," he said.
The BJP president said Advani's "mind was disturbed" after the arrest of the two "whistle-blower" former BJP MPs in the cash-for-vote scam and this became the trigger for him to announce his yatra.
With inputs from PTI