Mumbai: The absence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa could cast a cloud over the BJP National Executive beginning here tomorrow which is all set to pave the way for a second term to party chief Nitin Gadkari.
The party has been insisting that all those invited are coming, but there is no official word so far from Gandhi Nagar whether Modi is attending the meet.
The meeting is significant as it is the first major gathering of the BJP top brass ahead of the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the two party-ruled states, scheduled by the year-end.
Modi had not also attended the last meeting of the National Executive held in Delhi in December, apparently peeved over the induction of his bete noire Sanjay Joshi into Uttar Pradesh election campaign by Gadkari.
He had also not campaigned in the UP polls.
Yeddyurappa, who is unhappy over the failure of the party leadership to reinstate him, has already declared that he would not be going to Mumbai.
Modi`s known detractor Keshubhai Patel whom he replaced as Chief Minister over a decade ago, is planning to make it to the National Executive after staying away from it for three years.
A highlight of the National Executive is its formal endorsment of a resolution to amend the party constitution allowing a second term to the party President.
This will pave the way for Gadkari to stay in the saddle for another three years after he completes his current term in December.
With the party taking the view that the Congress-led UPA, which completed three years yesterday could fall any time due to growing internal contradictions, the talk of who should be projected as the PM candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections could revive here.
Interestingly, it was some 16-17 years ago in Mumbai that
Atal Behari Vajpayee was declared the party`s Prime Ministerial candidate by the then party chief L K Advani.
Some two years later, BJP had its first government at the Centre with Vajpayee as the PM.
It is another story that it did not last long and was at the helm for just 13 days.
Later, the BJP-led NDA was in power at the Centre with Vajpayee heading the government from 1998 to 2004.
Mumbai could also see efforts by BJP to enlarge the NDA given the fact that it was in search of new friends at a time when surveys are projecting an alarming picture about the prospects of the ruling party and a boost to the opposition in the next general election.
The party has been in political wilderness at the Centre for eight long years after May 2004.
The National Executive meet would provide opportunity to the opposition party to formulate a strategy on the Presidential election, party sources said.