Modi’s elevation marks end of era for Advani
The projection of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate on Friday virtually marked an end to the era of L K Advani, who had played a key role in the growth of the BJP in the 1990s.
Advani, 85 years old, on Friday was left ploughing a lone furrow as one-time staunch supporters Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar and Murli Manohar Joshi switched sides to join the Modi bandwagon, which seems unstoppable.
Advani, along with Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and M M Joshi had conveyed to party leaders that any decision on the prime-ministerial candidate should be taken only after the assembly polls to five states later this year.
However, while Swaraj and Joshi sensed the party’s mood and the overwhelming support in Modi’s favour and fell in line, Advani stuck to his stand. He stayed away from the meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board, which decided on Modi’s projection as the party’s prime-ministerial candidate.
Advani, who stuck to his stand throughout, opposing Modi’s candidature even before Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s support, fired a salvo at party president Rajnath Singh who, sensing the public mood, guided Modi to become the poll mascot, with the backing of the Sangh Parivar.
In his letter to Singh, Advani wrote: “…I had told you about my dilemma and expressed my disappointment on your style of functioning.”
Previously too Advani, peeved at Modi’s declaration as poll campaign committee chief at the Goa conclave in June, had written a terse letter, but never attacked Singh directly.
While expressing his disillusionment with the party’s functioning, Advani had resigned from party posts, which he had taken back after being cajoled by the RSS.
A section of the leaders had expected Advani to play the role of an elder statesman, guide the second generation of leaders and allow his personal ambitions to take a back seat.
However, it appeared that Advani was unable to come to terms with these expectations, and was left isolated within the party.
Modi’s elevation also brings to an end the “Atal-Advani” era in the BJP, which saw the party rise from a two-member outfit in Parliament to leading a coalition government at the Centre for six years on the basis of “hardliner” Advani’s organisational skills and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s more acceptable persona. After the BJP’s shock defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha election, Advani tried to soften his “hardliner” image, an attempt which created a chasm between him and the RSS, where the party finds its ideological moorings.
Advani had quit from all party positions in June, a day after the BJP president Rajnath Singh had declared Modi chief of the party’s campaign committee for the 2014 general election.