Friday, September 30, 2011

Modi skips BJP national executive, leaders deny rift


New Delhi: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi stayed away from the BJP's national executive meeting Friday, leading to various theories about his absence, but the leadership denied a rift and a spokesperson said he would prove to be one of the best prime ministers.

As the two-day meeting got under way, party leaders tried to cover up with some saying they had no information, some that Modi was too busy, and others claiming that he was likely to attend.

Party sources admitted that Modi has been upset with veteran leader L.K. Advani choosing Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to flag off his anti-corruption 'jan-samvedna yatra'. The cross-country campaign begins Oct 11 from Bihar and will go to 18 states and two union territories.

Party spokesperson Balbir Punj backed the official line, saying Modi could not come because of Navratri festival.

'Because of Navratri, he would like to be there and that is about it all,' Punj said.

He added: 'Let me tell you, given a chance he will prove to be one of the best prime ministers.'

Party general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad said there was nothing to worry about. 'He (Modi) will come.'

A third spokesperson, Shahnawaz Hussain, said Modi's absence could be because of work.

'Many people are not able to come to the executive at times because of their work, there are no clashes in the party,' Hussain added.

Senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi too dismissed the talk of differences within the party.

'There are no clashes in our party, clashes are there in Congress,' Joshi told reporters.

There were many who avoided giving a direct reply. Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said she had no information on whether Modi would be attending the meeting, which will focus on finalising the road map of Advani's trip.

'I have only seen whatever has been coming in the media...I will go and see,' she said.

Party leaders from all states are attending the national executive meeting.

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