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Advani endorses Modi as BJP's PM candidate for first time

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LK Advani

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Ahmedabad: Endorsing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the first time, party patriarch L.K. Advani on Wednesday said he would be happy to see him as the Prime Minister.

A visibly placated Advani also lavished praise on Modi for the work done in Gujarat which had brought him accolades not only in the country but also abroad.

"If we get the chance to form next government, we will be happy to see Narendrabhai as our Prime Minister," Advani said at an event here to mark the inauguration of Institute of Infrastructure, Technology, Research and Management.

"When I came here, I asked an institute official if there is any other educational institution in the country where infrastructure is taught as a subject and the answer was no," Advani said commending Modi's pursuit of novelty.

"Narendrabhai is always thinking what new he can do, what new initiative he can take," he said.

"The work done in Gujarat under Narendrabhai is not only praised in the country but all over the world," Advani said at the event, the third during the day where the two leaders were present together, indicating a thaw in their relations.

Advani, 85, who represents Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha, was seen at a public function with Modi in Gujarat for the first time after 2011.

Though the two BJP heavyweights had shared a public platform in Bhopal on September 25 with the top party brass for the first time after Modi's anointment as party's prime ministerial candidate, the warmth between them was missing.

Advani had lauded Modi for the work done by him in Gujarat, but also showered liberal praise on Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh, BJP Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

However, in marked contrast on Wednesday, both appeared more relaxed in each other's company.

Opposing the elevation of Modi, his one-time protege, as BJP's election campaign committee chief, Advani had resigned from all party posts in June this year but later withdrew his resignation after RSS intervened.

He had also not attended the party's Parliamentary Board meeting last month where Modi was declared BJP's prime ministerial contender.

In his speech, Modi, referring to Advani's statement that 2014 would bring about change, said, "Advaniji has said it with confidence, and I trust what Advaniji says..."

Addressing the gathering during inauguration of Institute of Infrastructure Technology Research and Management, Modi said he was thankful to Advani who attended the function in his (Modi's) Assembly constituency Maninagar.

"Thankful that Advaniji came here to my constituency for this. This (institute) is not for the city, but for the country," he said.

When he took over as Chief Minister of Gujarat, there were only 11 universities and 13,000 engineering seats in the state, but now there were 45 universities and 70,000 engineering seats, said Modi.

The country had lagged behind in skill development because of lack of visionary policy at the Centre, he said.

The institute should have been inaugurated a year-and-a-half ago, but the Governor did not sign the bill for setting up the institute and sent it back to the Assembly twice, Modi said.

"Those states, particularly those against the Centre, are facing problems. Their voices are being suppressed," he said.

Earlier, in his speech, Advani lauded the NDA regime. "During six years of (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee's rule, there was no price rise. Despite being besieged by various problems like US economic sanctions and the worst earthquake in India's history in Bhuj, NDA's tenure was marked by various achievements," Advani said.

"How many people have died in Andhra since the announcement of Telangana? During our tenure, we formed three states (Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and Uttarakhand) without any internal bickering," he said.

Vajpayee's tenure was marked by good and honest governance, he added.

Earlier, in the day they attended a function where Advani inaugurated a garden built by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation along the Sabarmati river under the Riverfront Development Project and also a meeting of Somnath Temple Trust.

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