The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was at pains to explain the absence of 85-year-old LK Advani from its three-day conclave, with party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar insisting the veteran leader was absent due to ill health.
Narendra Modi, who arrived in confidence at the three-day conclave and had a string of leaders clamouring to anoint him as the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, now has until today to swing the tide in his favour, after a host of leaders led by Advani skipped the meet citing “ill health”.
NaMonia is a term being used widely on social media to refer to the virus causing illness for several BJP leaders, who have given the meet a miss. The absence of Advani and his reported reluctance to endorse Modi’s credentials just yet has forced the party to delay, even if temporarily, the move to make Modi the face of the Lok Sabha polls.
Party insiders suggested that BJP president Rajnath Singh had offered Modi a compromise formula where the latter would be appointed as the convenor of the campaign committee for the general elections.
Modi is, however, has rejected the offer for now. Sources say leaders of party’s parliamentary board had a meeting late last night to decide on the issue.
Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman toed the party line, saying Advani was being briefed about all the developments.
Javadekar also played down rumours of a rift and quoting Singh’s inaugural address, said that attendees at the national executive would go back “happy, energised and enthusiastic”. Javadekar said the absence of Advani and other senior leaders was “nothing unusual”.
At the national executive meeting Rajnath Singh spoke on various issues ranging from internal and external security, corruption, politicisation of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the need for creating strong and confident relations with neighbouring countries.
Yashwant Sinha, who also skipped the meeting, said, “I don’t have ‘NaMonia’. I am in perfect health. There can be other reasons for not going to Goa.” Other important leaders missing from the meeting were Jaswant Singh, Uma Bharti, Shatrughan Sinha, Varun Gandhi, and Maneka Gandhi.