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Modi ads put BJP in a spot

February 28, 2009 17:13 IST

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has weakened the Bharatiya Janata Party's plank of protesting at Congress president Sonia Gandhi  Figuring in all central government advertisements at the exchequer's cost.

The BJP lost the moral ground to protest as Modi, too, entered the  advertisement race, with the photograph of its prime ministerial  candidate L K Advani occupying a pride of place in a full-page  advertisement released by the Gujarat Government's information  department.

Sonia appears in government advertisements galore by almost  all the union ministries as 'Hon'ble Chairperson, UPA' and the  Congress justifies it on the ground that it is she who is actually  leading and guiding the ruling combine in the decisions announced  through full-page and half-page advertisements in  newspapers.

Modi's full-page advertisement on 'Safeguarding ecology for a cleaner,  greener society' that appeared in Saturday's newspapers carries his  picture along with that of Advani, describing him as 'Hon. Leader of  Opposition, Lok Sabha and M.P., Gandhinagar (Gujarat).'

Only in one of the internal meetings of the BJP's top leaders during the party's national council conclave in Nagpur early this month,  questions were reportedly raised over the party lately promoting  individuals over the collective.

Advani was present in the meeting when a senior leader wanted to know why the BJP is adopting the Congress culture of promoting just him as  an individual instead of following the age-old practice of putting up the collective face. His worry was that the BJP cannot accuse the  Congress of projecting Sonia Gandhi when it is itself projecting Advani and nobody else.

As other party leaders point out, the same kind of malady afflicts Gujarat where the BJP means Modi and Modi means BJP and any body  challenging his authority is pushed into the oblivion sooner or later.  They say this "was not BJP culture" and yet Advani at the national  level and Modi in Gujarat have become larger than the party.

A Correspondent in New Delhi