Once dubbed as the man who catapulted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from the fringe to the centre of national politics, LK Advani is increasingly being seen as a man who is becoming a stumbling block in the party`s attempt to get back to power in 2014.
Both Advani and Narendra Modi have always remained leaders with a difference; personalities one may love or hate but cannot ignore. But times have changed and today the party ‘with a difference’ is facing a daunting task to tackle the differences, which have cropped up between the senior party leader and the Gujarat Chief Minister.
It is indeed ironic that Advani has turned from one of Modi’s supporters to his biggest detractor. It seems the ‘Iron Man’ is really finding it impossible to bow down to the 62-year-old former RSS pracharak, whom he once saved from being removed as the Chief Minister of Gujarat when former BJP prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was averse to him after the 2002 riots.
For the desperate BJP, Modi is the need of the hour, but at present it seems Advani is deliberately trying to be ignorant of the fact despite facing the risk of tarnishing his own image.
Advani, who is known as the architect of the BJP and could have well played the mentor by paving way for the BJP`s poster boy, it seems, is finding it hard to let go his prime ministerial ambitions. Earlier, Advani’s absence from national executive meet in Goa in June citing health reasons had dented BJP`s image very badly. At that point also there were reports doing the rounds that the senior leader was unable to bear the ‘NaMo’ chant and was hell-bent on diminishing not only his own image, but his party’s as well, which he is credited to have built during his decades’ long career in politics, just because of his personal ambitions.
Well, few months later when almost all the leaders and the cadre have almost decided to finalise on Modi, Advani has a golden chance to read the writing on the wall by agreeing to play the role of an elder statesman. But the BJP stalwart appears to be holding to his view that Modi’s elevation as PM candidate should be postponed till upcoming Assembly Elections in five states, which sends out only one message that Advani is least bothered about his `Parivaar`. Other than Advani, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi are also in the same camp that is opposed - at least on the issue of timing - to the announcement of Modi as PM candidate.
Advani’s prime ministerial ambitions are very well known and this seems to be the reason why the octogenarian is displaying despicable tactics on the leadership issue. He should now rather act as a mentor to his party. The BJP veteran seems to have forgotten the 2009 loss, when the party under his leadership was routed by the Congress.
At a time when the wind is blowing in Modi’s favour and even the party cadre is chanting the NaMo slogan, it is difficult to digest that the ‘Iron Man’ still dreams of being the perfect choice for leading the BJP in the forthcoming Lok Sabha Elections.
With many party leaders having an opinion that announcement on Modi should be made before the start of election process to five states, and the Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh, the ideological fountainhead of BJP, putting a stamp on Modi as its choice of PM candidate, the decision is more or less made.
Both the BJP and RSS have tried to take the `Iron Man` along as the leaders don`t want to be seen a divided unit ahead of the crucial elections. The party has gone overboard to persuade the most senior leader, with many leaders like Nitin Gadkari and party president Rajnath Singh recently meeting Advani to convince him on Modi. Even RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi met Advani and Swaraj separately to persuade them. But with all efforts to induce the `main stumbling block` Advani going in vain, the BJP should move forward and anoint the `populist choice` Narendra Modi as party`s PM candidate for the next General Elections.