India's most senior opposition leader resigns from party posts

The most senior leader in India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party resigned from key posts within the party Monday, apparently to protest Narendra Modi's appointment Sunday as chairman of the party's campaign committee ahead of the next general election.

The BJP leadership appointed Modi chairman at the party's national executive meeting in southwestern state of Goa.

Lal Krishna Advani, 85, who was deputy prime minister from 2002 to 2004 when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government was in power, had a long-cherished dream of becoming the country's prime minister.

But with Modi's appointment, Advani essentially lost the chance to become the party's candidate for prime minister in the next election. Modi has been chief minister of the western state of Gujarat three times and is perceived as the most popular face of the BJP as to date.

Being chairman of the BJP campaign committee means he is likely be the BJP candidate for prime minister in the elections expected early next year.

In a letter to party President Rajnath Singh, Advani resigned from three key posts in the party's national executive, the parliamentary board and the election committee.

He cited his displeasure with the current state of affairs of the party wherein, he said, some leaders were pushing their "personal agenda."

"For some time, I have been finding it difficult to reconcile either with the current functioning of the party, or the direction in which it is going. Most leaders of ours are now concerned just with their personal agenda," Advani said in his resignation letter.

According to latest reports, Singh rejected Advani's resignation and all senior BJP leaders, including leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj, are huddled at Advani's residence in New Delhi to convince him to stay on.

Advani skipped the BJP national executive meeting in Goa over the weekend.

"Poor health" was given a reason for his absence, but with Monday's development it is believed Advani was upset at being "neglected" by the party even as it was appointing Modi to a key post.

Advani was one of the founders of the BJP and he played an anchor's role in lifting the BJP to the national scene in India.

From just two seats in parliament in 1984, the BJP reached 185 seats in 1989, largely through Advani's hard work and sincerity.