New Delhi/Bhopal, Sep 22: With former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee opting out of the Bharatiya Janata Party"s national executive meet citing health reasons, party"s veteran L K Advani was all set to take the lead, but the former"s recent open letter to his party men has once again put the issue of party leadership in deep freeze.
''My health is improving. I regret not being able to attend the meeting, but I am recovering and I will be back soon among all of you," said Vajpayee in his open letter, which is likely to put any possible change of guard on hold for the time being.
Before this letter came to the fore, some senior party leaders, who have gathered in Bhopal, were trying their best to project Advani as their leader.
Jaswant Singh, a Vajpayee confidante, said, "For years, Vajpayee has been our supreme leader, and Advani has been his right hand man. This has been the case for 50 years."
This indicates that after Vajpayee, it is Advani who could lead the party.
However, reacting to this letter, party president Rajnath Singh"s supporters, who were feeling isolated with the name of Advani coming ahead as Prime Ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha polls, are arguing that Vajpayee"s message does not indicate anointing of a successor, and that it could also mean that a younger leader could be considered.
Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad has refused to analyse Vajpayee's message, saying "both Atalji and Advaniji are our tallest leaders," and that the appropriate time to take a decision on BJP's prime ministerial candidate has not yet come.
Now, it"s time for 'wait and watch" till the outcome of the executive meet on the leadership issue.