M A I N   N E W S

Resignation result of isolation or grand strategy?
KV Prasad/TNS

New Delhi, June 10
The swiftness with which Lal Krishna Advani plunged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into a crisis by resigning from three main party fora is a sure sign that the octogenarian leader is angry with the leadership for increasingly pushing him to the margins of decision-making.

Advani, who along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee assiduously built the BJP and dexterously wove the coalition that came to power at the Centre in the late 1990s, has been feeling cast away by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and ignored by the new crop of BJP leaders, who were unwilling to underwrite his renewed bid as the Prime Ministerial candidate.

Having failed in his attempt to prevent the elevation of Narendra Modi as the party’s chief election campaigner, Advani dropped a bomb by resigning from the National Executive, Parliamentary Board and the Election Committee a day after the BJP conclave at Goa made it amply clear that the party backs the Gujarat Chief Minister.

Ironically, a little over a decade ago, it was Advani who stalled Modi's ouster as the Chief Minister of Gujarat after the 2002 riots, but now the wheel has turned in a different direction with Modi's elevation becoming the bone of contention.

Advani supporters Sushma Swaraj, M Venkaiah Naidu, SS Ahluwalia and Ananth Kumar, too, could not stall the decision to anoint Modi chairman of the party’s poll panel. There were reports that Advani had sought a post for former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, a request not accommodated by BJP chief Rajnath Singh.

While efforts are on to placate the 85-year-old BJP leader, dubbed as the party’s ‘Bhishma Pitamah’, the chances of the party going back on its decision are bleak. The move to appoint Modi has the blessing of the RSS, which would prefer that the BJP launch a damage-control exercise so as to prevent political opponents from deriving any advantage and at the same time assuage ruffled feathers within the NDA.

Way back in 2005, Advani had earned the wrath of the RSS after praising Mohammed Ali Jinnah during a trip to Pakistan. His “Jinnah is secular” remark eventually cost him the BJP presidency and after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the RSS prevailed upon him to let younger leaders assume positions in Parliament that led to the appointment of Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley as Leaders of the Opposition.

The RSS/BJP preferred to grant a greater role for Modi ahead of the 2014 General Election sensing the mood among workers and built upon his popularity and must have factored in a response from Advani, but not in the form in which he delivered it.

What remains to unfold is whether Advani’s decision to resign is the fallout of his growing isolation in the party and the RSS, or part of a strategy by a clutch of leaders who would find themselves moving away from the new power structure emerging in the BJP.




Advani’s letter bomb

Dear Shri Rajnath Singhji,

All my life I have found working for the Jana Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party a matter of great pride and endless satisfaction to myself.

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. I no longer have the feeling that this is the same idealistic party created by Dr Mookerji, Deen Dayalji, Nanaji and Vajpayeeji whose sole concern was the country, and its people. Most leaders of ours are now concerned just with their personal agendas.

I have decided, therefore, to resign from the three main fora of the party, namely, the National Executive, the Parliamentary Board, and the Election Committee. This may be regarded as my resignation letter.

Yours Sincerely

LK Advani


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