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The war within BJP – Advani vs Modi

June 1, 2012

Prem Chand, the celebrated Hindi author wrote ‘Budhapa bachpan ka punragaman hota hai’ (In old age a man begins to become child like). The 80 something patriarch of the largest opposition party of the country the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr LK Advani is passing through some such phase in his political life. Ambition by itself is nothing bad, but if one is consumed by it then it can be a problem. Even the worst critics of LK Advani concede that the man has great managerial skills. He is also the architect of the BJP as we find it now, very different from the Jan Sangh days. When Advani was eased out as the Leader of the Opposition he brushed it aside as inconsequential and maintained that he does not hanker for any position and that what he has got from the people of India is much more than what he ever aspired or what any office can ever give him. With Nitin Gadkari declared as the choice to head the BJP, the RSS had clearly indicated that BJP was in for a makeover with the younger lot given responsibilities. The canny Sindhi however had his loyalists and the RSS found very difficult to shrug them off. Nitin Gadkari too realized that while he may take some decisions on his own, major decisions will have to be taken only by ‘consensus’ which effectively meant a nod from the patriarch.

In the meanwhile Narendra Modi was all but exonerated by the SIT and much to the man’s relief he could finally have a relatively free hand to do politics his way. This was a shot in the arm for the party which had been on the defensive all through. The Mumbai convention of the BJP saw Nitin Gadkari having to sack Sanjay Joshi to ensure that Narendra Modi attended. This was disliked by the patriarch. LK Advani stayed away from the Mumbai convention as did his prodigy Sushma Swaraj. The Narad Muni of the BJP who has a finger in every pie over and beyond his own party, Ananth Kumar, however was seen hobnobbing with all and sundry during the convention. LK Advani may well be ruing the fact that he skipped Mumbai for this gave a free hand to Narendra Modi. Most Indians have not heard Modi speak and when they did during the convention that one speech catapulted Narendra Modi to the center stage. Media was going live with Modi speech and this was a coup of sorts by the Gujarat strongman. Recently Neilsen had conducted a poll for the possible future prime minister of the country and Modi had led the poll by a wide margin. LK Advani lagged behind. The choice of the young India is clearly Narendra Modi and that is apparent to all and sundry within the BJP and those in the RSS.

During the Mumbai convention the BJP constitution was amended to allow a president of the party a send term. This is clearly to accommodate Gadkari and to ensure the man gets a second term. LK Advani has not liked this move by the RSS at all. RSS loyalist Rajnath Singh had proposed the amendment and Jaitley and others had seconded it. LK Advani and others do not understand as to what new has Gadkari done to amend the constitution such that the man gets a second consecutive term. They have a point. Gadkari’s proximity to the RSS and that he has been more successful than anticipated – being an unknown even in BJP circles is perhaps the reason for such benevolence from the RSS.

What fuelled fire was the statement given by the Karnataka strongman BS Yeddyurappa who openly advocated Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections which many anticipate may be held a tad earlier given the political fluidity that Is apparent. It must be conceded that the internecine war within the BJP has started rather prematurely because of the extremely poor performance by the Manmohan Singh government. People are anticipating an election anytime soon. With rising prices, record unemployment, corruption and drought in parts of the country BJP fancies its chances like never before. This governent has lost its credibility and that is the best news for the opposition parties. If the elections are announced before 2014 none will be happier than LK Advani as he himself conceded sometime back that he wasn’t getting any younger . Advani had lost a chance in 1999 when AB Vajpayee was made the prime minister. Advani had accepted the setback stoically though midway through the period he was declared Dy. PM, a notch closer to his goal. Narendra Modi stealing the thunder in Mumbai saw Advani attack the BJP through his proxy Ram Jethmalani. When that did not work much he himself wrote on his blog about the need for introspection within the party and how the people of India were disappointed by the BJP. He also mentioned how Karnataka was bad press for the party. When it comes to Karnataka it is amazing that a seasoned politician such as LK Advani does not have a pulse of the people of Karnataka. Agreed Ananth Kumar is his point man for Karnataka but an experienced hand as LK cannot believe all that Ananth Kumar says as Gospel truth.

What has hurt LK Advani most  is perhaps that his absence in Mumbai was not felt much by the party. He also saw BJP rallying around Narendra Modi. That has stung the old man of BJP like nothing has. Soon after there was this meeting at Gujarat veteran Keshubhai Patel’s house where many of his loyalists were present . The rhetoric that emanated from that meeting was almost Teesta Setalvadish – there is a fear among the people of Gujarat, they lamented. It is not the people of Gujarat who are living in fear it is Advani and his men who are petrified of a Narendra Modi surge such that the man may make everyone else irrelevant. Gadkari does not have the stature to stop the Modi juggernaut. Modi has too many friends in the RSS and Advani cannot play the RSS card against him. Lesser mortals like Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi and others will be content to play second fiddle to Modi – their prime ambition is that BJP led coalition comes to power and Congress and the UPA is ousted. They want to serve the nation in any capacity and do not necessarily hanker for the top post. Competent renegades of the party such as BS Yeddyurappa see Modi as the only hope for a rehabilitation into the main stream.

That the party is divided into Advani and Modi camps is evident. The pro-Modi, pro- RSS forces are coming together became clear when  Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and most importantly Narendra Modi graced the wedding of BS Yeddyurappa’s grand daughter . There is a realignment of forces. The tipping point for LK Advani may well be that he made his disquiet clear when Nitin Gadkari was given a send term. If Gadkari finds support from Modi, Rajnath, Jaitley and others within the party the Advani-Sushma Swaraj- Ananth Kumar troika may well have to face the heat.

When Advani lost to Vajpayee the top post it was said that because he was a hardliner he was sidelined. This time over Advani is trying to project himself as someone who is accommodating and definitely against graft. His posturing against Modi and denigrating Modi rule by saying that people of Gujarat are living in fear is to drive home the point. His vehemence against BS Yeddyurappa is to show that he will not tolerate any corruption. The man is going by media rhetoric and is deliberately choosing not to accept the truth on the ground. People are smarter than that. Opinion polls still find Modi as the choice of the majority of people. Paradoxically people choose a ‘hardliners’ such as Modi to Advani. The reason is clear. People want development and jobs and the rest is rhetorical. Modi has shown he can deliver. He is obviously the people’s choice.

For the BJP watchers this childish pigheadedness of LK Advani is not a good omen for the party. The man has done way too much for the party for anyone to ignore him. He needs to learn to step back gracefully. Leaders like Modi have enough regard for him to overlook him anytime in future. The child in LK needs to grow. He must learn to use his experience to be the guide and mentor not only to Swaraj and the motley crowd around him but for the party as a whole.

It must also be said that the tug of war for leadership within the BJP is a tad premature. BJP has always promised much and has been unable to realize its potential. For anyone to conclude conclusively that the UPA will be ousted and the NDA will come back to power will be ambitious at best and reckless in the least. However, minor details such as the BJD also deciding to call a bandh on the 31st of May against price rise does give hope to BJP and its allies.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. julius permalink
    June 2, 2012 2:59 pm

    Advani should be sacked. His childishness and obsessive ambition will ruin everything for Bjp, Rss and Modi. It’s best to nip such dangerous flower in the bud.

    • sharma24 permalink*
      June 5, 2012 7:06 pm

      It will be silly to ignore or sack someone with the integrity and experience. All he needs to be made to understand is that he is needed and that he is respected and while Modi maybe in the PM chair his views will always be sought. The man is politically very savvy and must not be set aside completely.

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  6. July 3, 2013 2:44 pm

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    • July 3, 2013 6:15 pm

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  7. July 22, 2013 7:06 am


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