Delhi: Veteran Congress leader and Indira Gandhi’s confidant Makhan Lal Fotedar has written in his book that hatred for PV Narasimha Rao and conspiracy by a Brahmin brotherhood had forced senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani to propose the name of Atal Behari Vajpayee as the party’s prime ministerial candidate just before the 1996 General Elections.
Fotedar has given his own interpretation about what led to Vajpayee’s being projected as the face of BJP in place of Advani.
As per 'Sunday Guardian', Fotedar in his book 'The Chinar Leaves' has also highlighted the role that he played in influencing the decision, saying that he had been looking at ways to oust former PM Narasimha Rao and had subsequently found an ally in Advani.
Advani's dislike for Rao was huge, Fotedar has written.
The revelation of names during the Jain Hawala scandal (in which Advani’s name also figured) turned many Congress leaders and Opposition members against the PM.
The book reportedly says that Advani became apprehensive that Rao would try to fix him.
“I would have been naive if I had not exploited the situation. But I did not want the BJP to become strong or Advani to gain power,” Fotedar is quoted in the report as writing in his book.
He also writes that he bonded with senior BJP leader Krishan Lal Sharma who told Fotedar about issues which were worrying the BJP.
One such issue was how Rao wanted to fix Advani who was BJP's main leader at that time with Vajpayee was playing second fiddle to him at that time.
Nonetheless both Advani and Vajpayee were close to each other.
Fotedar writes (as quoted by Sunday Guardian) - “During a serious discussion with Sharma, I told him that it would be difficult for Advani to replace Rao since he was seen as a fundamentalist and was therefore not as acceptable as Vajpayee, who had positioned himself in the Nehruvian mould. Therefore, if the BJP indeed wanted to come to power, it should project Vajpayee and not Advani as their prime ministerial candidate. In my heart of hearts I never wanted the BJP to come to power but I reckoned that Vajpayee would be a lesser problem than Advani. I managed to convince Sharma over a few meetings to persuade Advani to propose Vajpayee’s name.”
Vajpayee was declared BJP's PM candidate in the party's plenary in Mumbai in 1995.
As known to everyone, Advani proposed his name.
The rest, as they says, is history.
“There are moments in history which cannot be explained. This was one of them, as Sharma finally convinced Advani to propose Vajpayee’s name. Filled with hatred for Rao, Advani backed Vajpayee who went on to become the Prime Minister of a 13-day government and was elected again in 1998 and 1999 staying in power for six years,” Fotedar writes.