A senior leader of India’s main opposition party the BJP has resigned, exposing rifts over its choice of a controversial politician to head a campaign in the run up to next year’s national elections.

L K Advani, a former deputy prime minister, sent a letter of resignation to the BJP president on Monday, saying he was “finding it difficult to reconcile either with the current functioning of the party, or the direction in which it is going”. He said he was stepping down from the party's national executive, parliamentary board and the election committee.

Private television NDTV reported that Rajnath Singh has refused to accept the resignation and several senior leaders are now trying to dissuade Advani from stepping down.

Advani resigned a day after Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, was chosen to head the BJP’s electioneering. The choice made him its presumptive prime ministerial candidate in the event of the party winning next year's election.

Advani was opposed to the selection of Modi, tainted by accusations of doing little to stop anti-Muslim riots that swept  Gujarat in 2002.

Sources say that despite his advanced years, Advani wanted to lead the party’s campaign and had ambitions to be the  next prime minister.

Though once his protégé, Modi has outgrown his mentor. Despite being a polarising figure in Indian politics, many view him as a charismatic leader. He has been re-elected three times as Gujarat’s chief minister, adding to his image as a leader who delivers.

Source: Al Jazeera