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Advani, Sushma’s absence at rally pre-decided, no rift: BJP

Mumbai(IANS): Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj will not attend the key party rally in Mumbai Friday evening due to prior engagements, party leaders said, denying that their absence was due to any discontent.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari with Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi during the Party rally in Mumbai on Friday. PTI The party said the absence of the two leaders was known much earlier. It also showed an invite of the rally, which did not mention Advani’s name.

“Advani’s schedule was fixed earlier so he won’t be there and Sushma Swaraj has to attend a programme in Ghaziabad tomorrow (Saturday) morning,” said party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.

Asked if both the leaders have decided not to attend the rally as they were unhappy over the change in the party constitution that would allow a likely second term to party president Nitin Gadkari, Sitharaman said: “There has been no discontent over the party resolution and he (Advani) is fully with us… it (any discontent) is all in the minds of the people.”

Another party leader said: “It was known since long that we will pass an amendment to the constitution, and it is not for any particular leader. It will benefit all presidents at state and district level as well. Why would there be a sudden discontent over something that is known for so long?”

Mumbai BJP spokesman Atul Shah also told IANS that while briefing media here last week, he had specifically said that Advani will not be staying for the rally.

“Sushma-ji also said that she was sorry that she could not attend the rally. She said it would be very late in night by the time she reaches Delhi, and it will be difficult for her to address the rally early Saturday morning,” Shah said.

Party sources also added that Advani has not been well and is suffering a throat infection. He had, however, addressed the valedictory function of the meet before leaving.

Sushma Swaraj also denied speculation that there was a rift among party leaders.
“I respect and honour all decisions of the party. Please do not draw any other conclusions.”

“I must reach Delhi tonight (Friday night) because I have to leave early morning for an important function in UP tomorrow (Saturday). I cannot attend tomorrow’s (Saturday) functions unless I take an early flight to Delhi,” she posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.

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