Victor Hugo can be relevant in the quaintest of situations. The French author had once said that there can be no stopping an idea whose time has come.
The BJP in its current phase of evolution seems to be obsessed with the idea of Narendra Modi. So strong is the tide in favour of the Gujarat Chief Minister that those who aren’t riding the wave seem to be in danger of being swept and scattered.
Or worse, rendered irrelevant. And to a politician there can be no greater anathema than that.
After being at the helm of affairs for over three decades at the BJP and spending even more years at the Sangh, LK Advani is facing that very crisis. Despite his sudden “illness” that has prevented him from taking the chopper that was in readiness to fly him to the party’s national executive, the drama played out at the pristine beaches of Goa clearly shows that it may be curtains down for the Advani-Vajpayee era.
Could another leader before Narendra Modi ever take away the agenda, support or limelight from the ‘Iron Man’? Possibly not. The very fact that this would be the first time that Advani has skipped a national executive meeting since 1980 underlines that the veteran leader is out in the cold.
For a man who is 85 years old, one of the nuggets of wisdom he must have picked during the long journey of life would be that like life, relevance and power scenarios are ever changing and ephemeral. To stoke the fire of ambition to become the Prime Minister at this age seems possibly even foolish to another.
But it is more than apparent that Advani thinks otherwise. He probably has never recovered from his historic folly when in a sudden moment of largesse the MP from Gandhinagar had announced Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP. Alas, fate never gave him another chance.
By the time Vajpayee finished his term, the India Shining campaign had done the BJP in. Dr Manmohan Singh became the next PM after BJP faced shock defeat. The last chance that he got in 2009 was also usurped by the Congress.
To now face the situation when his own party seems to have found a more worthy candidate than him must be just too much for him to digest. Possibly the reason why stomach trouble is being quoted as one of the reasons for his illness!
Worse, even his handpicked loyalists Sushma Swaraj and Shivraj Singh Chouhan don’t seem to be in contention, even if age is on their side.
Advani’s recent attempt to prop Chouhan against Modi created controversy but did little else. Advani had taken a dig at Modi, saying developing an already “developed” Gujarat was not as big an achievement as turning around a BIMARU state like Madhya Pradesh. He had gone on to praise Chouhan’s humility and drawn his comparison with Vajpayee.
What seems to be needling Advani, it seems, is the fact that Modi who appears arrogant and unapproachable would not be willing to take orders from him.
But the party has little patience with flattering such sensitivities. Already Advani’s determined stand to prevent BS Yeddyurappa’s return to the party fold led to BJP losing its sole citadel in the south of Vindhyas.
And his decision to not let Nitin Gadkari stay as the party chief was also in clear odds with RSS’s viewpoint.
Ever since the election buzz started, Advani has been barricading paths to Modi’s elevation. First he was against him being declared the party’s chief national campaigner. Then he pulled another trick from his hat to set up separate campaign committees for state assembles – again to prevent Modi from emerging as the sole face of the BJP.
While he has drawn support from some like Uma Bharti, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha, who are also not attending the BJP conclave, it is clear that they are not being missed.
This fact and the hordes of protestors outside his Prithvi Raj road bungalow crying out the NaMo chant must be adding to Advani’s unease. Or reminding him of the days when his party had turned against him in the wake of his remarks about Jinnah during his Pakistan visit.
Unless of course, we actually believe Prakash Javadekar that LK Advani wanted to go to Goa but doctors advised him against it!