'Ill' Advani to skip Goa BJP meet

Panaji, June 8 (IANS) BJP stalwart L.K. Advani will miss the party's entire national executive meeting due to "ill-health", party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said here Saturday.

He also ruled out the possibility that the senior leader's absence was due to a rift in the party owing to increasing demands from a section of the party to make Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi the head of the party's campaign committee for the 2014 general election.

Javadekar said this was the first time in his political life that Advani had missed an important party conclave. He however said that the absence of Advani, 85, and other senior party leaders "is nothing unusual".

"Advaniji's health is really bad. He is not coming here on doctor's advice," Javadekar said, adding that party president Rajnath Singh had spoken to the former deputy prime minister over telephone and enquired about his health.

"He has wished the best for all the workers assembled here," Javadekar said.

Advani's absence, at the three-day conclave that started June 7, comes amidst reports that the senior party leader was upset about a decision to make Modi the head of the 2014 election campaign committee.

Advani, along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, led the formation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the successor of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, in 1980.

According to sources, a chartered plane was ready to fly the Advani to Goa, but he could not come. Advani's family informed the party that his health condition ruled out travelling. He is reportedly suffering from a stomach problem.

Other party leaders like Jaswant Singh, Shatrughan Sinha and Uma Bharti have also stayed away from the Goa conclave citing health reasons.

Modi, who emerged as a strong contender to be the party's prime ministerial candidate, is likely to be formally declared head of the party's campaign committee for the 2014 general election, something Advani and some other leaders have opposed.

Advani had suggested the formation of two campaign committees, one for the upcoming assembly elections in five states this year-end, led by Modi, and another for the general election of 2014.

A final decision on who will spearhead the party's campaign in the upcoming general election is expected Sunday.

When asked if any key decision taken during the national executive meeting would have the blessings of Advani, Javadekar said: "It is a tradition in the BJP that all decisions are taken after consulting everybody."


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