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Published On:24 June 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

'Divisive' Modi's rise signals end of mentor Advani's politial career

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: There was no dearth of drama at the BJP National Executive Meeting held at Goa recently. For one, at the outset, amidst intense speculation about anointment of Narendra Modi as poll campaign chief, the seniormost member and co-founder of BJP, L K Advani, chose to keep away from the meeting. Predictably, his absence fuelled unsavoury rumors about the possible schism within the BJP. Was L K Advani sulking because he resented being left out? Was his pride injured because he was not consulted? Much as the senior members of the party tried to play down his absence citing health reasons, it was evident that there was more than what meets the eye.

And when NaMo was formally anointed, the BJP workers’ celebration party balloon was prematurely pricked by the news that the old man has resigned from all party posts. The battle lines were now drawn.Though good sense prevailed in the end and the truce was called, but not before the crisis exposed the serious faultlines in the BJP, the second largest party in the country. What precipitated the crisis in the first place? Was it because Advani realized that the Modi’s anointment was the last nail in the coffin of his prime ministerial ambition, and therefore shot off his resignation, thereby giving an indirect message to the party and Sangh Parivar that come what may he would not capitulate before NaMo?

Significantly, Rajnath Singh announced the news of Modi’s elevation even in the absence of Advani and this may have stung the veteran leader where it hurt most. The news was greeted by BJP workers around the country with widespread celebrations with crackers. The obvious implication of the anointment was that while Advani was the past, Modi is the future of the party. But their jubilation proved short-lived when Advani announced his resignation.What was the internal matter of the party -- some equated the power tussle with the epic Mahabharat -- soon degenerated into a frivolous and insipid debate in the TV studios. Rajdeep Sardesai, the Editor in Chief of CNN-IBN, succinctly summed up the stalemate when he told that the BJP had indirectly strengthened the Opposition’s and the Congress hand. And he was not far from the truth. In the wake of the announcement of Advani’s resigning from all party posts, Digvijay Singh and Omar Abdulla started mocking at the party on social media.

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Advani’s resignation undeniably spelt out crisis for the party, as his 10-line letter was quite loaded and potent. The letter was a direct attack on the functioning style of Modi, when it said that some leaders were running personal agendas in the party. The attack was well-timed also, as the senior most leader realized that once Modi became the campaign chief, given his mass popularity and abilities there was no way he could stop him from becoming prime minister.

And this would signal end of his political career.Though Modi was his one-time protégé, the first signal of divide between them surfaced in 2005, when Modi did not rescue Advani when the latter made his indiscreet observations about Mohd Ali Jinnah. Subsequently the rift increasingly became wider. It came in the open when Advani tried to clip the wings of the rapidly rising Modi by showering adulation on Shivraj Chauhan and Sushama Swaraj. But still it was all hunky-dory until the Goa meeting, when finally Rajnath Singh gave in to the mounting pressure on him to elevate Modi. Modi’s supporters intensified their efforts, particularly after Advani described Shivraj Chauhan as a humble leader.

Rajnath Singh was even pressurized to project Modi as BJP’s next prime ministerial candidate, but evidently it was not possible for the party president to do so. But the party was in a desperate need for a popular face that can improve its prospects in next Lok Sabha elections. So Modi was formally anointed in the presence of RSS representative. But the fallout of the whole episode was that the Goa action in a way formalized the rift between Advani and Modi. It must have incensed the co-founder of the party who is after all chief architect of the BJP.All is well that ends well. Though the much-debated resignation letter was finally withdrawn by Advani apparently at the behest of the RSS chief.

Though he denies any role in the 2002 rioting, (sparked by a fire on a train with Hindu passengers), he refuses to express remorse for the incident. He remains unapologetic despite political allies having since been convicted for incitement. Modi is a divisive character within his own party, never mind the country. Yet the BJP has only ever garnered the support to govern nationally when it has moved beyond sectarian influences. Even then it was in coalition, which the uncompromising Mr Modi may struggle to build. Gujarat’s chief is using more inclusive language as the election approaches. He has also toned down attacks on Pakistan. But it is an open question whether the Gujarati strongman would show the same restraint in a crisis with India’s nuclear-armed neighbour that Mr Singh did after the Mumbai bombings of 2008.

If Modi is to convince voters that he is statesman enough to lead India, he has to do more than play on Congress’s weaknesses. He should reject the supremacist-inspired strands of his own party, which divide the country rather than unite it. A first step would be to show remorse for wrongs done in 2002. If he persists in refusing, voters will know where he stands – and the risks he represents.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on June 24, 2013. Filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on June 24, 2013. Filed under , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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