BJP National Executive: Gadkari Praises Advani

New Delhi: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and two other ousted Chief Ministers today kept away from the BJP`s two-day National Executive meeting here raising questions over the leadership race but party president Nitin Gadkari hailed L K Advani`s proposed yatra for good governance and clean politics.

The apparent differences among the top leaders came to the fore with Modi staying put in Ahmedabad citing Navratra fasts as the reason for not attending the conclave that aims to target the government on corruption and focus on coming state elections.

To add to party`s discomfort, B S Yeddyurappa and Ramesh Pokhriyal, recently removed as Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Uttarakhand also did not attend the meeting as they are said to be sulking.

In the midst of perceived growing differences between Advani and Modi, Gadkari said in his Presidential speech that Advani is a leader with unblemished political career of 50 years and has "all the moral authority" to lead the party in the struggle for good governance and clean politics.

"Through our Jan Chetna Yatra we will try to focus on multi-sector reforms like administrative reforms, electoral reforms, judicial reforms and political reforms," Gadkari said.

He said through the nation-wide yatra of Advani commencing from Bihar on October 11, good governance and clean politics will now become the focus of public discourse.

Differences are believed to have cropped up between Advani and Modi over projection of Prime Ministerial candidate in the next elections. Modi fancies himself to be such a candidate while Advani is believed to have not given up his claim for being projected for the post.

BJP, however, downplayed the reported differences between the two senior leaders and said reports of Modi being unhappy with the yatra were wrong.

"It is not true that Modi is unhappy. He fasts during Navratra and so is not attending the National Executive," BJP Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

However, he admitted that the party had requested Modi to attend, a point made by Gadkari yesterday.

BJP leaders close to Modi spoke in his favour with one MP from Gujarat saying the development model in the state was worth emulating.

Party Rajya Sabha MP and Gujarat in-charge Balbir Punj said, "If he (Modi) gets a chance, he will be the best Prime Minister in the history of the country."

Asked if Modi or Advani would make a better Prime Minister, Punj said, "I do not know this. I will not make any comparisons. That the people of the nation will decide."

In his Address, Gadkari took on the UPA government over the issue of corruption and specially targeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"The government today suffers from a crisis of credibility. Its domestic credibility stands tattered while its international credibility has suffered a serious dent. Corruption has broken all records," Gadkari said.

Attacking Singh, he said, "…If the Prime Minister is so much indifferent to the problems and crisis faced by the government, then why is he in office? He always has a hallmark reply that he did not know anything."