History haunts Advani

With the anointment of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, saffron corridors are agog with speculation over the fate of BJP patriarch L.K. Advani — the man who fought till the last to prevent the inevitable.

Mr Advani, once the mentor of Mr Modi, has not only been marginalised by his former “disciple” but found himself completely isolated, as the next generation, with the backing of the RSS, took over the party. Questions are now being raised whether this could be the beginning of the end of Mr Advani’s long political career. Or will he live to fight another day? For the moment, it’s curtains down for Mr Advani’s “burning ambition” to don the mantle of PM candidate or “promote his aides”.
At the sunset of his political career, Mr Advani tried to take on the RSS yet again. His first attempt to free the party from the RSS’ shackles after the Jinnah controversy had failed miserably. This time, too, he seemed to have lost the first round. Mr Advani is also the NDA convenor, but after the exit of the JD-U, Mr Advani lost his n Turn to Page 2
smain support base in the alliance as both the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal did not lose much time to latch on to the Modi bandwagon.
A senior party functionary pointed out: “Advaniji is the NDA convenor and he hoped to draw support from the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal against Modi. He could not succeed in his attempts.” He claimed that “Advani could have risen in stature only if he paid heed to the call of the cadre. He simply made it a prestige issue. At this juncture, his position and stature have take a major hit.”
Some in the party feel history has come to haunt Mr Advani. Old-timers accused him of joining hands with Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee back in the late ’60s to edge out Balraj Madhok, then president of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh. Mr Madhok had led the BJS in the general elections of 1967. The BJS got its highest-ever tally of 35 seats in the Lok Sabha.
Old turks recalled that in 1969, Mr Madhok developed differences with rising stars Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani. After Mr Madhok accused Mr Vajpayee of being “hand in glove” with Indira Gandhi, he was expelled from the party. This saw the rise of the Atal-Advani duo. The old guard also spoke of Mr Advani “designs” against Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, who led the party from 1991 to 1993. Dr Joshi’s camp often held Mr Advani responsible for the “marginalisation of Joshiji in the organisation”.
With Mr Modi at the helm of affairs and with his reported “autocratic” style, Mr Advani “might not be left with any room to manoeuvre”. His support in the party has been dwindling and he stood alone as his protégé, Ms Sushma Swaraj, cancelled her Ambala visit and shared the dais with Mr Modi as the party welcomed his elevation. The other “Advani men” — Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Murli Manohar Joshi, Varun Gandhi and Shatrughan Sinha — who had initially raised their voice against Mr Modi have gone quiet.
Whether Mr Advani will silently suffer the humiliation or quit the party and politics or wait for his time yet again remains to be seen.

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