As the Bharatiya Janata Party grapples with deepening internal fissures, the launch of a book on L K Advani on Tuesday saw party president Nitin Gadkari lauding the hard work put in by him and other veterans and said it helped people like him "reach the top".
Differences between Advani and Gadkari came out in the open recently when Advani made a thinly-veiled attack on the party president in his blog, as he called for "introspection" within the party over its current state.
Though Advani was himself not present, other leaders like Gadkari, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, former party chief Rajnath Singh and senior leader Jaswant Singh had gathered at the launch of a book on the life of the National Democratic Alliance's working chairman.
Advani had stayed away as according to the organisers, he felt it would be "embarrassing" to attend the launch of a book on him.
"Good days are when the party is in power. But he was there when people were not willing to contest on a Jan Sangh ticket; he rode against the wave with leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It helped people like me to reach the top (in the party hierarchy)...had they not worked so hard, we would not have witnessed this day (when BJP is a major political force)," Gadkari said.
Advani's comments on his blog had lent credence to speculation that he may have been unhappy with Gadkari, the results of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and the manner in which some corrupt ministers of the Bahujan Samaj Party were welcomed by the BJP.
Swaraj said Advani was a like a banyan tree under whom several people have found shelter.
"This is his personality, he has helped juniors grow. He is unlike those who feel insecure," she said.
The book 'Those were the days and then: the life and times of Lal Kishen Advani' has been authored by Mira Govind Advani, who knows the BJP leader for a long time.
With memories of the controversy surrounding his book 'Jinnah -India, Partition, Independence' apparently still fresh in his mind, Jaswant Singh said, "It is not easy to write a book. I say this from my experience," which led to peals of laughter from the audience.
His book eulogising Mohammad Ali Jinnah had come under attack from the BJP and the Sangh Parivar. In August 2009, he was expelled from the BJP. He returned to the party fold in 2010.
Singh said Advani has lived his life based on morals and principles and his values can be emulated by the BJP.
Former party chief Rajnath Singh said no one has been able to accuse Advani of corruption or nepotism.
"Once he was accused in the hawala deal. While people knew he was being framed, he promised not to return to Parliament till the charges against him were dropped. Do we see such politicians today," he asked.
He credited Advani and other veterans for turning BJP into a "stronger" force than the Congress.