New Delhi: After RSS sidelining itself from L K Advani’s candidature for the post of Prime Minister in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it was now the turn for BJP big shots to distance themselves away from the issue.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari categorically de-linked Advani's anti-corruption Rath Yatra, starting from Sitabdiara in Bihar, from the BJP's choice for a Prime Ministerial candidate. By reiterating Advani’s Nagpur statement Gadkari said, “The Rath Yatra is not for the Prime Minister's post but for awakening the nation.”

Advani’s Yatra is slated to begin from Sitabdiara, which is veteran socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan’s birthplace. The Yatra will be flagged off by Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar on October 11 and is expected to end in New Delhi on November 20, covering 18 states and three Union Territories.

The main organiser of the Yatra, Anant Kumar would be accompanied by party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, Murlidhar Rao and Shyam Raju during the Rath Yatra. However, the yatra is unlikely to witness the participation of party brass leaders.

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley along with Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav are expected to be present in the meeting to be held on the first day of the Yatra in Patna.

Nitin Gadkari’s participation is also final. However, the date and the time has not been revealed.

Although the Yatra-rift, which has left the BJP a divided house, has not come in open, people within the party can surely feel the heat. According to sources, the Yatra was to commence from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's birthplace Karamsad but as Advani and Narendra Modi failed to reach a consensus on the issue, the venue was shifted.

The decision of flagging off the yatra by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has widened the ongoing rift between Nitish and Modi. Therefore, playing it safe, the top brass of the party also decided to stay away from the Yatra.

(JPN/ Bureau)