The Election Committee, headed by Rajnath Singh, on Mar. 19 had decided to field Advani from Gandhinagar, angering the 86-year-old leader who wanted to shift to Bhopal. His desire to shift from Modi-ruled Gujarat to Bhopal is seen as a reflection of his unease with the party's Prime Ministerial candidate. Since then, the party has been trying to placate Advani, with even Modi driving to his residence. Subsequently, some other leaders, including Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu also met Advani.
Modi also met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat here last night after which some RSS leaders are believed to have talked to Advani as well as Rajnath Singh. The BJP President said there is no confusion in the party on the issue at all. "All things which are coming (in the press) are absolutely imaginary," he said.
Modi was with Advani, former Deputy Prime Minister, for about half-an-hour. Swaraj had also met him along with Nitin Gadkari after the party announced Advani's candidature from Gandhinagar, which he had represented five times earlier.
Advani was said to have been adamant on contesting from Bhopal. He had said he be given a chance to select a seat of his choice just as other top BJP leaders like Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Modi had done. Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman had played down reports of differences in the party over the matter and said that the issue would be settled "peacefully and calmly".
"There are no differences. There is nothing. If there are talks, it will be settled internally... peacefully and calmly," she told reporters at the BJP headquarters. She did not comment when asked if the veteran leader wanted to contest from Bhopal and not Gandhinagar, but said that the party had made the announcement and senior leaders were talking to Advani.
"There is no need to read too much into it," she said. Party sources said the controversy was unnecessary as Advani himself had gone to Gandhinagar recently and said that he would like to contest from there. They said while the Gujarat unit of BJP had formally recommended Advani's candidature from Gandhinagar, there was no such proposal from the Madhya Pradesh unit. Instead, only the sitting MP Kailash Joshi had suggested that Advani be given Bhopal seat, the sources said. (PTI)