New Delhi, May 17:
The cold vibes between the BJP’s veteran leader L.K. Advani and the party’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi were well known. But there seems to be some reconciliation after the Gujarat chief minister emerged as the undisputed leader of the party following the massive Lok Sabha mandate in its favour.
The mood in the party here Saturday ahead of the parliamentary board meeting was different from earlier with both the sides trying to project that all was well.
This was unlike the scene witnessed when the party released its manifesto last month. At that time, Advani, along with other senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi, gave the cold shoulder to Modi. Modi also avoided them for most of the time at the function.
On Saturday, however, in a show of unity, party veteran Advani and Modi appeared cordial.
As the parliamentary board meeting started, party president Rajnath Singh and Modi, who led the BJP to a thumping victory, exchanged sweets in celebratory fashion.
Modi tried to pick up a piece of sweet for Advani too who was standing next to Rajnath Singh.
Advani, however, insisted that Modi take the sweet from his hands.
The BJP veteran also offered him a bouquet, after which Modi bowed to touch his feet, and Advani hugged him in return.
The same scene was repeated when they came to address the media. Modi again touched Advani’s feet, while the latter hugged him back, in a gesture that looked choreographed.
Unlike her last major appearance at the BJP headquarters at 11, Ashoka Road for the manifesto release, Sushma Swaraj this time arrived smiling, and even came forward to wave at the hundreds of media persons.
No senior leader came to greet her when she came to the party office to attend the meeting, which decided to meet May 20 to discuss government formation.
She even sat next to Modi during the press conference.
Her body language on Saturday was different from Friday when the party got an unprecedented victory winning 282 parliamentary seats on its own.
Both Advani and the outgoing leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha had called it a victory of the party, and had not given Modi the credit for the spectacular showing.
The Gujarat chief minister, who is set to be the next prime minister, also appeared in a softer mood Saturday.
He first thanked the party workers outside the BJP office, and later in the press conference thanked the media, even apologized for not being able to meet them because of time constraint.
It was very obvious at the party office as to who was the undisputed leader.
Even the poster on the stage from where Modi addressed the press had his huge image. Unlike earlier occasions when a serious and aggressive looking Modi would be on the posters, this time it was a smiling Modi with his head bowed and hands folded in a ‘namaste’ style.
The top position Modi enjoys in the party was meanwhile clear when party president Rajnath Singh said the selection of the new leader of their parliamentary board was a “mere formality”, pointing towards Modi.
Rajnath Singh is presently chairman of the parliamentary board of the party.
A party leader, who wanted to remain unidentified, said: “They have now accepted that Modiji is the one who will lead BJP now. These leaders have no choice. They also seem to be reconciled to the fact.”
Asked to clarify who were “they”, he said: “It is known to all.”