BJP firefighting: Advani agrees to contest from Gandhinagar
Putting an end to a growing controversy, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani Thursday said he has decided to contest from the Gandhinagar constituency, after he was mollified by party leaders, including Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi, and told he was free to choose between the Gujarat seat and Bhopal.
The octogenarian leader had reportedly gone into a sulk after he was told to contest from Gandhinagar and not his choice Bhopal.
But a series of meetings with senior party leaders as well as a telephonic talk with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) brought the former deputy prime minister around and he agreed to go with Gandhinagar.
"I have decided to contest the 2014 general elections from Gandhinagar itself. I have conveyed my opinion to Rajnath Singh," the 86-year-old Advani said in a statement.
Advani said he was approached by Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Modi, who came to his residence "and emphasised that the people of Gujarat are keen that I represent Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha once again".
He has won the seat five times.
Advani said he was informed by party chief Rajnath Singh that the Madhya Pradesh unit had also suggested his name for contesting from Bhopal.
He said he was informed that "the choice between the two parliamentary seats should be left to me".
Advani said he was "deeply touched by this gesture of my party colleagues", and also expressed gratitude to BJP members from Madhya Pradesh, including Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, for proposing his name for the Bhopal seat.
The senior leader had expressed his displeasure ever since the party announced his name for Gandhinagar Wednesday as he was keen to fight from Bhopal.
Advani is known to be close to Shivraj Singh Chouhan and has publicly praised his governance over that of Modi.
Advani was believed not to be keen to fight from Gandhinagar as a result of his tense relationship with the Gujarat chief minister.
He has earlier made known his unhappiness at Modi being made the BJP campaign chief and also the prime ministerial candidate, though he came round later and expressed support for his former protege.
Advani had conveyed to Rajnath Singh that he should be allowed to choose his constituency as some other party leaders have been allowed to do, sources said.
In an indication of the party's attempt to mollify the senior leader, Rajnath Singh had announced in Chennai earlier in the day that Advani was free to choose between Bhopal and Gandhinagar and it has been conveyed to him.
Advani, who has been a prime ministerial aspirant, was approached by senior party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Modi separately in the morning.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is also believed to have spoken to him and urged him to go with the party parliamentary board's decision of Gandhinagar.
But seat choice troubles are not over for the BJP as another senior leader Jaswant Singh Thursday indicated he wanted to be given his constituency of choice.
Singh, 75, is reported to be keen to contest from Barmer in Rajasthan.
Though he has never represented Barmer in the Lok Sabha, sources said he has conveyed to the party that he wants to contest what is likely to be his last election from the constituency.
Singh has won Lok Sabha elections before from Chittorgarh in Rajasthan in 1991 and 1996 and from Darjeeling in West Bengal in 2009.
(Posted on 20-03-2014)