Thoughts & Insights

Adieu Advani: The Patriarch Who Failed To Read Writing On the Wall

James Paul | Mar 25 2019 02:54:52 PM
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The curtain has finally rung down on the life and times of a leader who arguably reshaped the political landscape of this country with Hindutva as his spearhead, and steered the Bharatiya Janata Party’s great leap forward as a national force.

Party patriarch L K Advani was denied BJP ticket to contest from his old Lok Sabha seat, Gandhinagar. For the first time in decades, the 91-year-old veteran of BJP has been denied a ticket to Parliament by the very party he co-founded with late Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. BJP leaders justified the decision by saying that the former BJP strongman himself had opted out of active political life.

It was his controversial Ram Rath Yatra in the late 80s and early 90s that helped BJP expand its organisational base and catchment area from its traditional urban and small town lower and middle classes to OBCs, Dalits and other castes. Advani provided a sharp ideological sheen to the BJP when he espoused the Hindutva cause and derided what he called the appeasement of the minorities by the Congress governments with an eye on netting their votes en bloc.

Along with appeasement, Advani made pseudo-secularism an integral part of the vocabulary of everyday political discourse, forcing the Congress on the back foot. A quintessential organizational man, he groomed a host of younger leaders.

Whether it is Modi, who was one of the general secretaries when Advani was the party president, or Sushma Swaraj or Arun Jaitley, and a host of lesser known state and central leaders, Advani spotted the talent and honed it.

Indeed, a lesser known fact about Advani was his excellent parliamentary skills. But the familiar face of Lal Krishna Advani will be missing from the front row benches when the 17th Lok Sabha assembles after the general election.

It seems that the poll calculus has changed after Pulwama terror attacks. Modi’s nationalism-infused muscular narrative needed no ageing veteran with little brand recognition for a new generation of voters.

The end to Advani’s eventful public life has been rather abrupt and unceremonious. Till the BJP released its first list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, it was widely assumed that he would contest for the seventh time from Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

In fact, the party’s Parliamentary Board had decided at its first poll meeting that seniors like L.K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi would have the privilege of choice. It was left to them to determine whether they were game for another electoral battle. Both senior leaders kept quiet and the silence was taken to be an answer in the affirmative.

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