BJP’s Advani to contest from Gandhinagar

Opposition leader announces decision, ending speculations over rifts within the top leadership of the party.

The BJP is seen to be the favourite to form the next government [AP]

Veteran Indian opposition leader L K Advani will contest upcoming parliamentary elections from Gandhinagar in western Gujarat state, reports say.

“I have decided to contest the 2014 parliamentary elections from Gandhinagar itself,” Advani said in a statement.

The announcement ends speculations about rifts within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over Advani’s relevance in the party.

Advani, who represented Gandhinagar in the last parliament, was reportedly keen to contest from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh this time. He was apparently apprehensive that he might not get support from local party workers in Gandhinagar, angered by his perceived opposition to Narendra Modi’s nomination as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Once a protege of Advani, Modi is the current chief minister of Gujarat.

Advani,87, believed he was healthy enough to run for the prime minister again, but the party decided otherwise. Advani was BJP’s prime ministerial candidate during the last elections, but the Congress won the race.

Since Modi was named the BJP’s choice as the next prime minister, relations between Advani and Modi have remained frosty, though BJP insists Advani remains the tallest leader within the party.

But Modi’s influence over the party has steadily grown, creating an impression that old-timers like Advani are gradually being marginalised.

Supporters of Advani feared that he could face internal sabotage if he contested from Gandhinagar. But after a series of meetings with top leaders, he relented and agreed to seek re-election from the seat.

With India set to hold elections in nine phases over April and May, the BJP is seen as the favourite to form the next government. Opinion polls say Modi is the clear front-runner and leads other rivals in the race to become the next prime minister.

Source: Al Jazeera