Zee Media Bureau/Manisha Singh
New Delhi: Nobody will deny the fact that patriarch of the Bhartiya Janata Party and senior leader LK Advani, along with former prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee is credited to have taken the party from a fringe player in national politics to the seat of power.
Advani launched the rath yatra on the plank of Ram Janmabhoomi in the nineties, something that catapulted his party in establishing itself as a national player. when the BJP cobbled a coalition and formed the government in 1999, Vajpayee became the PM and Advani, his home minister. However, in 2004 parliamentary elections, the BJP-led NDA could not get the majority and Congress-led UPA came to power. The BJP again lost in 2009 LS polls, when Advani was the prime ministerial candidate of his party.
Thus, after having failed to lead his party to power in 2009, it was more or less believed that Advani`s era was over and a change at the helm was needed if the party hoped to come back to power. The RSS, it has been reported time and again, conveyed it to Advani in no uncertain terms that he was no longer in contention as the face of the party.
So, however difficult it may have been, probably Advani had to accept the fact that his time was up, even though no one could challenge his stature in the party. Interestingly, his diminishing value in the party coincided with the growing popularity of Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
When Modi won the Assembly elections in his state last year in emphatic style, the clamour started growing within the party to name him the prime ministerial candidate for 2014. The first step was taken in this regard when he was named BJP`s poll panel chief in the Goa conclave, inspite of Advani`s much publicised objections to the same.
Even after that the senior leader has been taking a dig at Modi on and off and his camp has been said to be against the Gujarat CM being named as the party`s PM candidate before the Assembly elections in couple of states later this year. One of the reasons being given is that the Congress will get an upper hand in the state polls if Modi is named the PM candidate.
Efforts are on to placate Advani. Top RSS and BJP leaders have been meeting him at regular intervals, with party president Rajnath Singh meeting him on Wednesday, amidst reports that if Advani does not come on board then the party may go ahead with the announcement of Modi without his consent.
If that happens then the right message may not go to the electorate and the argument put forward by the Opposition parties that BJP is a house divided may get more credence. Also, Advani may be in the danger of losing his standing in the party and the public and may be seen to be non-pragmatic and someone who is working for his personal gain.
So, if Advani backs Modi then he will be lauded for putting the party above everything else. He will also be seen as going with the need of the hour and accepting the fact that the time has come to hand over the baton to the next generation.
Also, if Advani`s accepts the role of the mentor of the party, then he will give himself the chance to bow out of politics with dignity and respect, something that he deserves.