Veteran BJP leader LK Advani, who shares a warm relation with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar notwithstanding the severing of ties with the JD(U), will skip the party's October 27 rally in Patna.
The rally, to be held at Gandhi Maidan, would be the first public engagement of BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Kumar's home turf.
"Advaniji will not be there on October 27 'Hoonkar rally' in Patna which will be addressed by party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi," party general secretary Ananth Kumar here to review preparations for the rally, told reporters.
Besides Modi, BJP President Rajnath Singh and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley will address the rally in Patna, Kumar said.
Facing questions on Advani's absence from the rally, he sought to downplay it saying it was party's strategy and plan.
"All the top leaders (of BJP) cannot attend the 100 rallies the party has planned to hold across the country before 2014 parliamentary elections. Advaniji had attended the Bhopal rally and will participate in some more in future also," said Kumar, who is also BJP Parliamentary Board member.
Asked if Advani's absence was due to his personal relations with Bihar chief minister, he said "It is all speculation...BJP is one and all the leaders are working towards a common goal of setting the country free of Congress."
Advani had resisted Modi's elevation first as party's campaign committee chief and later as prime ministerial candidate.
JD(U) has openly spoken of its respect for the BJP patriarch, who was the architect of the tie-up between the two NDA allies for long 17 years before the split in June.
During the recent National Integration Council meeting in Delhi, Kumar and Advani were seen greeting each other which set tongues wagging in political circles.
Ananth Kumar, who was flanked by BJP general secretaries Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Dharmendra Pradhan and Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Nand Kishore Yadav, besides senior leader Sushil Kumar Modi charged Nitish Kumar with playing 'opportunistic' politics.
"Nitish Kumar who claims to be being a disciple of socialist leader Jayprakash Narayan is now sitting in the lap of Congress...he is playing opportunistic politics," he said.
Ridiculing the proposed third front, he said it was a "flop idea of some opportunistic politicians" and would never become a reality.
He said the third front which might take shape after the Left parties' October 30 rally, in which Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and Nitish Kumar would participate, is "anti-people."
Quizzed about the absence of new partners in NDA, Ananth Kumar said the recent meeting of Telgu Desam Party (TDP) leader N Chandrababu Naidu and YSR Congress Party working president Y S Vijayamma with BJP president shows that the party was gaining ground.
Claiming that 1977-like wave against Congress was prevailing in the country presently, he said that the party has set a target to achieve over 272 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In 1977 Janata Party of which BJP was a part had won 293 Lok Sabha seats, he said.
To achieve the target of 272 plus, the party has chalked out two-prong strategy of mass mobilisation and energising party cadres.
Besides 100 of rallies, the BJP plans to organise separate conventions for youth, women and Muslims to reach wider sections of society, he said.
He said the Patna rally on October 27 would be historic as it would send a strong message of change in the country like the one after the 1974 JP movement, which began in Bihar.
Ananth Kumar and the other BJP leaders garlanded the socialist leader's statue here and also went to his birth place in Sitab diara in Saran district.
Ajay Nishad, son of suspended JD(U) MP from Muzaffarpur Jainarain Nishad and former JD(U) legislator Ravindra Yadav joined BJP in the presence of Ananth Kumar and Sushil Modi. Some leaders and workers of different parties and Momin Front also joined BJP.