Absence of Kalyan, Katiyar makes BJP squirm

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Bangalore, Sep 12 (UNI) The much-touted election-oriented BJP Executive meet, ahead of the assembly polls in six states and the next Lok Sabha polls, suffered a setback on the opening day here today with two senior Uttar Pradesh leaders staying away from the inaugural session, much to the embarrassment of BJP President Rajnath Singh who hails from the state.

BJP Vice President and former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh and party General Secretary Vinay Katiyar were conspicuous by their absence, apparently due to their displeasure over the party holding parleys with Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, infamous for shifting alliances.

This has also brought to the fore the simmering differences within the party ranks, that too from the BJP President's home state.

While briefing newspersons, BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad was also put on the spot when asked about the absence of the UP leaders and was at a loss to provide ''convincing reasons''.

While sources said that Mr Kalyan Singh had to undergo a surgery, the party maintained that it was not necessary for all the Executive members to attend the meeting right from the beginning, indicating that Mr Katiyar could attend the conclave tomorrow or on the concluding day.

Another prominent absentee was former Prime Minister and party patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee who has not been attending the Executives on health grounds.

UNI KAS-MCN RR PM1750

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