BJP downplays Advani's absence at Goa conclave

Panaji, June 8 (ANI): Amid sharp criticism from various political outfits over the infighting within its fold, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday downplayed party veteran Lal Krishna Advani's absence at the two-day national executive meet in Goa, saying one should not draw any conclusions out of it.

"Advani is not coming for the meet due to bad health. One shouldn't draw any other inference out of it," said BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.

Hussain, however, used the occasion to target the ruling Congress Party at the Centre.

"The Bharatiya Janata Party has organised the meet to devise strategy to oust the Congress Party from power, for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the upcoming elections in the five states," he said.

In an attempt to dismiss the signs of division within the party, BJP President Rajnath Singh yesterday said that he himself advised Advani to take rest as he was unwell, and insisted that his no-show should not be seen as an expression of protest.

Hussain further expressed his displeasure at the demonstrations that took place outside Advani's residence in the national capital.

"The demonstration in front of Advani's residence (in the national capital) were by those who had no links with the BJP and Advani continues to be the supreme leader," he said.

Advani's absence from the office bearer's meeting in Goa has given a clear indication that he is upset with the proposal of making Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi the face of the party's poll campaign panel. There are even reports in the media quoting him, as insisting that BJP president Rajnath Singh should take key party decisions only in his presence.

Advani earlier on Friday skipped an important session of the 12 office-bearers of BJP. According to certain media reports, a chartered flight that was hired to take Advani to Goa this morning for the party's national executive was cancelled.

Some senior BJP leaders are also opposed to Modi being projected as the party's foremost leader. Jaswant Singh, Uma Bharti, Maneka Gandhi, Varun Gandhi and Shatrughan Sinha are also not attending the Goa conclave.

Modi's detractors fear that his elevation as chief of the party's election committee is just one step away from him being declared the BJP's prime ministerial candidate - a position some of them believe they deserve. (ANI)

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