New Delhi: A galaxy of BJP bigwigs came together to release its much delayed manifesto yesterday, but an iciness between prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and manifesto committee chief Murli Manohar Joshi was evident.
The apparent differences that caused delay in release the of the manifesto were sought to be glossed over with presentation of a united face in public and before cameras.
Party insiders said the delay in the manifesto release was due to “differences between Modi and Joshi”. Modi wanted some changes in the document, which Joshi was not happy with, those privy to inner-party affairs said.
The BJP officially dubbed the delay as a “logistic issue”, saying leaders were busy campaigning.
Modi, who sat at the centre of the stage, was flanked on either side by BJP president Rajnath Singh and Joshi. While he engaged in conversation with Rajnath Singh several times, no words were exchanged with Joshi. Neither did Modi try and supplement whatever Joshi was saying.
Both Rajnath Singh and Modi appeared uninterested and were seen chatting and flipping pages of the manifesto booklet as Joshi made his presentation on the key promises and answered most of journalists’ queries.
Lok Sabha Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and veteran leader L K Advani were also seen sitting quietly on the flanks.
However, when it came to words, the leaders said all the right things. Joshi referred to Modi as the “future prime minister”, Advani repeated time and again that he was “very happy” with these elections, while Modi chose to focus on the manifesto alone.
While the tension between leaders prevailed, it was decided by the party to give prominence to Joshi, in an apparent attempt to pacify the elder who felt sidelined by Modi. Joshi took the few questions asked by journalists, and stayed back after the official release function was over to answer more.
The only time when the BJP prime ministerial candidate was seen exchanging a word with Joshi was a brief moment before leaving the stage, an apparent good bye.
The BJP, anticipating a large crowd, organised the release not at its national headquarters, but in the premises of the adjoining 9, Ashoka Road, official bungalow of senior leader Arun Jaitley, who was out campaigning in Amritsar where he filed his nomination papers. Also missing were former party presidents Nitin Gadkari and M Venkaiah Naidu.
Modi, whose voice was already hoarse addressing election rallies, left soon after the event was over for his public meetings scheduled for the day. IANS