Miffed Jaitley skips BJP poll panel meeting (Lead)

March 13th, 2009 - 8:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) Miffed at Sudhanshu Mittal’s appointment as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) election co-coordinator for the northeastern states, party general secretary Arun Jaitley Friday skipped the party’s key election panel meeting here, BJP sources said.
“Jaitley was appointed chief coordinator for the BJP’s Lok Sabha election campaign only last Friday. What miffed him was the appointment of Sudhanshu Mittal as the co-incharge for the northeastern states without his consultation,” a party source told IANS, declining to be named.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar sought to play down the issue. He said: “Jaitley rarely comes early to the BJP office on Fridays. Every Friday he goes to court to look after his professional work.” Jaitley is a senior Supreme Court lawyer.

But the source said: “He skipped the CEC (the party’s central election committee) meeting to show his displeasure with the decision. But he attended the lunch at (L.K.) Advani’s residence organised to finalise the seat-sharing agreement with Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Nitish Kumar for Bihar.”

BJP president Rajnath Singh Monday appointed Mittal, a close aide of the late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, for coordinating the party’s election campaign in the northeast. Mittal reportedly played a key role in finalising the seat-sharing agreement with the Asom Gana Parishad in Assam.

According to BJP sources, that appointment became a bone of contention between Rajnath Singh and Jaitley.

Besides being the chief coordinator of the party’s Lok Sabha election campaign, Jaitley also heads a seven-member committee set up to formulate the BJP’s policies.

While Jaitley’s absence at the CEC meeting sparked off speculation about factions in the party, its prime ministerial aspirant L.K. Advani reportedly asked Singh and Jaitley to sink their differences and work for the party.

“Advani has asked both Rajnath Singh and Jaitley to place their personal issues on backburner and work for the party to ensure the party’s win in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections,” the source said.

The CEC meeting at the BJP headquarters here started around 11 a.m. and lasted for nearly two and a half hours. Senior leaders Rajnath Singh, Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, M. Venkaiah Naidu and V.K. Malhotra attended it.

The party has already named candidates for several states and is expected to announce the names for states such as Delhi, Haryana and Bihar in the next few days.

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