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Advani, Joshi were missing from BJP manifesto release event because they weren’t invited

Party president Amit Shah met both leaders late Monday but ThePrint has learnt that both were not invited to the unveiling of the manifesto.

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New Delhi: Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were conspicuous by their absence at the party event to unveil its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in New Delhi Monday.

ThePrint has now learnt that Advani, one of the BJP’s founders, and Joshi, who headed the party’s 2014 manifesto committee, were not invited to the event.

BJP sources told ThePrint that both Advani and Joshi were ignored by the BJP top brass and not invited for the manifesto launch.

A senior BJP leader, present at the event, said that it could be the first time in the party’s history that both Advani and Joshi were absent on such an important event. “We are used to seeing the top leadership, including Advani and Joshi, coming together on the launch of the manifestoes,” the senior leader said. “It makes a few of us sad that they were absent from the event.”

While there were murmurs regarding both the senior leaders being absent, many in the party decided to not speak on the issue.

Also read: Lower tax, pension for shopkeepers, pucca houses: BJP manifesto packed with populism

The missing margdarshaks

The development comes on the back of both Joshi and Advani being overlooked for the Lok Sabha elections.

Advani, 91, is a 10-time MP but has been replaced in his constituency of Gandhinagar, where the ticket has gone to BJP president Amit Shah. Advani, according to sources close to him, had “sensed the winds of change” and called up party chief Amit Shah to inform that he himself would bow out of the race. This after national general secretary (organisation) Ram Lal had met Advani to sound him out on the party’s unwillingness to give him a ticket.

Since the decision, Advani wrote a blog, on 4 April, in which took a veiled dig at the current BJP leadership.

Joshi, on the other hand, has been replaced by Satyadev Pachauri in Kanpur. He has since put out a statement, saying that the BJP did not want to nominate him from Kanpur.

The BJP top brass, however, has reached out to both leaders. Shah and Lal first met Joshi at his residence in New Delhi late Monday before calling on Advani at his residence. An attempt is being made by the current dispensation to show that it still respects the party’s old guard, s senior party leader said.

Also read: Full text of BJP’s 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto

Many leaders on manifesto cover in 2014 versus one in 2019

To further emphasise the sidelining of the BJP old guard, the front page of the 2019 manifesto has just one photograph adorning it — that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In contrast, the front page of the 2014 manifesto had photos of the former Prime Minister, late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and party veterans such as L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, the late Manohar Parrikar, Raman Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Vasundhara Raje.

The BJP averted further controversy as Union minister Nitin Gadkari was also absent from the ceremony. He, however, explained his absence on Twitter.

“Because today and tomorrow are the last two days for the campaigning, I was not able to attend the ceremony of unveiling the manifesto,” he tweeted. “I congratulate Amit Shah and we will fulfil the people’s wishes and hopes under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi.”

Also read: BJP’s ‘nationalist’ manifesto promises zero tolerance of terrorism & free hand to military


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