LK Advani: India BJP leader agrees to contest Gujarat seat

LK Advani Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Advani is a founder member of the BJP and a former deputy prime minister

Veteran Indian politician LK Advani has agreed to contest the upcoming general election from the western state of Gujarat after initially rejecting the seat assigned by his party.

His refusal had plunged India's main opposition BJP into a crisis ahead of the elections due in April and May.

Mr Advani is worried he may not get adequate support from the state party, led by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is the BJP's PM candidate.

The two share an uneasy relationship.

Mr Advani has won several elections from Gandhinagar in the past, but this time he wanted to contest the polls from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh state, reports quoting senior BJP leaders said.

On Thursday, Mr Modi and several other BJP leaders met Mr Advani to persuade him to rethink.

Late in the evening, Mr Advani said Mr Modi "emphasised that the people of Gujarat are keen that I represent Gandhinagar once again".

"I have represented the state both in the Rajya Sabha [the upper house of parliament] and the Lok Sabha [the lower house]. Having represented Gandhinagar constituency in the Lok Sabha since 1991, I have decided to contest the 2014 general elections from Gandhinagar itself," he added, putting an end to the row.

Last year, Mr Advani quit the BJP briefly after Mr Modi was appointed to head its election campaign, saying that the party's current leaders were "now concerned with their personal agendas".

He later withdrew his resignation after pressure from its senior leadership.

Mr Advani, 86, is a founder member of the BJP and a former deputy prime minister.

Although the veteran leader has in recent months endorsed Mr Modi's bid for prime minister in the elections, correspondents say relations between the two remain strained.

Mr Advani himself has long been known to have ambitions to become the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

Mr Modi is seen as a dynamic and efficient leader who has made Gujarat an economic powerhouse.

But he is also a deeply divisive figure whose reputation was tarnished by anti-Muslim riots which took place in the state in 2002 under his watch.

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