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Jun 07, 2013 at 11:57am IST

Advani to skip crucial BJP meet in Goa today, cites health reasons

New Delhi: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani will not attend the party's Parliamentary Board meeting in Goa on Friday. Sources say while he is citing health concerns and will head to Goa only on Saturday, he is also upset with the latest developments over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the party.

The question now is as to why is Advani skipping the extended Parliamentary Board meeting. A last ditch attempt is being made to block a formal announcement on Modi as campaign committee chief. The second possible reason could be to dissociate himself from the decision on Modi or to put pressure on Rajnath Singh to hold on to any announcement till the end of assembly elections.

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Meanwhile, many other BJP leaders will skip the BJP national executive in Goa. BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha who is in Mumbai has said he is unwell, Jaswant Singh too has said he is unwell. BJP leaders Varun Gandhi and Ravi Shankar Prasad will also give it a miss.

Earlier on Friday, sources said that the RSS has given a green signal to Narendra Modi being named as the BJP's campaign committee chief for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Sources say that RSS in-charge for BJP Suresh Soni met BJP President Rajnath Singh on Thursday.

In fact, the BJP President has called for an extended Parliamentary Board meet on Friday and sources say a decision on Modi is likely within the next 48 hours. Sources say a few senior leaders including LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj want more time before a decision on Modi as the campaign committee chief is taken.

Despite the feel good factor created by Narendra Modi's clean sweep in the Gujarat by-polls, and a loss for his arch rival Nitish Kumar in Bihar, the deal is anything but done for Modi.

Eleven years ago in Goa, Modi had survived as the Gujarat CM, thanks to Advani's support. Then it was PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was opposed to Modi. Today, with Vajpayee having faded away, it's Advani who has turned into Modi's biggest opponent.

Just last week Advani said that out of Modi and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the MP Chief Minister more closely fit the Vajpayee mould of humility. Sushma Swaraj told the BJP president about the dangers of anointing Modi too soon. And now a section of the party wants a separate 'Chintan Baithak' to decide on Modi's road ahead.

But there are supporters too. "There is no doubt that Modi is the most popular leader," BJP leader Balbir Punj said. Goa CM Manohar Parrikar also added, "Modi is undoubtedly the most popular leader of the BJP. He should be made the face of the party in 2014, when and how will that be declared, it's for the party to decide.

There are now two very clear cut divisions within the BJP - one led by Modi himself looking for an immediate announcement, Rajnath Singh has given enough indications that he doesn't have a problem with this. The problem is with LK Advani and group, who are also asking for setting up of a separate election management group.

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