New Delhi, Nov 8 : As several party leaders came to wish him on his 85th birthday, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani Thursday announced he is not in the race for becoming the party's prime ministerial candidate.
"The party and the country have given me so much, it is much more than becoming the prime minister," Advani told reporters.
Advani is known to have been nursing prime ministerial ambitions and during the 2009 general elections he had gone on a countrywide rath-yatra (tour) to connect with people.
Among those who went to greet Advani were the BJP's beleaguered chief Nitin Gadkari, who is under attack for alleged financial impropriety in the funding of his Purti Group.
Leaders of Opposition in two houses Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, and Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin were among the prominent people who wished Advani on his birthday. Kadakin was also seen touching Advani's feet.
Delhi BJP leader Vijay Jolly, who was present when Gadkari came, said the "meeting was very cordial. Gadkari ji touched Advani ji's feet".
"The manner in which Gadkari greeted and welcomed Advani ji, it seemed that a son was wishing his farther and taking blessings from him," he said.
Advani had absented himself from the BJP's core group meeting Tuesday that was held to decide on the future of Gadkari in the wake of allegations against him.
The party has reposed faith in Gadkari's leadership and said he has done "no legal or moral wrong".
There have also been speculations over Advani being a choice for the post of party president when Gadkari completes his tenure in December.
Gadkari was pitched for a second term, with the party even amending its constitution to allow a second consecutive term to him as president.
However, Advani supported Gadkari in a blog last month, where he congratulated the BJP chief for saying he was open to a probe.