Gandhinagar/New Delhi: BJP president Amit Shah wished to get the blessings of LK Advani, senior leader of the party’s Margdarshak Mandal, before filing nomination for Gandhinagar. The party wanted Advani to write that he has voluntarily withdrawn from the election.
According to sources close to Advani, he turned down the request of the party’s organisation minister Ramlal. Not only this, Advani showed no interest in attending Shah’s nomination process or meeting him in Gandhinagar.
Advani, according to sources, is upset not only for not being re-nominated for Gandhinagar but also for several other affairs of the party, and the top leadership of the BJP knows this.
A senior leader, who has been close to Advani for decades, says that Advani’s blessing before Shah’s nomination would have a special significance. BJP’s strategists wanted Advani to be present in Gandhinagar during the nomination of party president Amit Shah.
[pullquote]A BJP leader made a sensational claim that the BJP leadership was ready to consider Shatrughan Sinha for the Rajya Sabha this time, rather than just denying him the ticket from Patna Sahib, if Advani had mediated for the deal[/pullquote]
But the way the organisation delivered the message from the top leadership via Ramlal, the possibility of Advani obliging became bleak.
Murli Manohar Joshi was approached in a similar manner for Kanpur in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. However, Joshi had written a letter addressing the people of Kanpur after getting the message from the party’s organisation minister. Advani has not responded similarly yet.
Advani to be pursued, persuaded
Advani’s close friends believe the BJP leadership will soon reach out in a better manner to the patriarch. For this, the Prime Minister himself could visit the nonagenarian leader, whom Narendra Modi considers one of his political mentors.
Advani, the sources said, is fully committed to following organisational discipline and principle. He set a high moral standard in politics and after resigning as party president due to some people insinuating that he was involved in the Jain hawala scam. He resumed in active politics only after his name was cleared, a source said.
BJP at cusp
Advani and Modi have had a warm relationship. When Modi was squeezed out of Gujarat politics in the 1990s due to the tussle between Keshubhai Patel and Shankersinh Vaghela, Advani stood by Modi, a source said.
At a time when the party had decided to remove Modi from the post of Gujarat chief minister following the 2002 riots, Advani was among the leaders who stood up in his support.
Although in mutual rival camps in the field of law, Ram Jethmalani and Arun Jaitley (currently the finance minister of the country) stood by Modi too.
A BJP leader made a sensational claim that the BJP leadership was ready to consider Shatrughan Sinha for the Rajya Sabha this time, rather than just denying him the ticket from Patna Sahib, if Advani had mediated for the deal. But the veteran is no longer interested in such organisational activity, the leader said.
If Advani refuses to budge, this will bring about an end to the era of goodwill among leaders of different generations in the BJP, the source said.
Different shades of the veteran
The country’s oldest political party Congress is now as much a victim of inconsistencies between generations. The BJP, which has been carrying the legacy of the Jan Sangh since 1980, is on a cusp of change.
Two party stalwarts Advani and Joshi are not contesting this election. Both leaders had had significant roles in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. The other leaders of the movement, Uma Bharati and Vinay Katiyar, are not candidates in the Lok Sabha election of 2019 either.
In a mutual contradiction of sorts, Advani had popularised the “party with a difference” credo of the BJP in public perception while saying in close circles that the BJP was at best “Congress with a saffron tinge”, said a septuagenarian RSS swayamsevak no longer in the party for nearly two decades.
It is an open secret now that the BJP is what Prime Minister Modi and party president Shah want it to be. However, party leaders say the duo is, nevertheless, wedded to the ideals of the Sangh and would, hence, never speak ill of the elderly in public forums. In the fitness of things, “Advani ji must make a public statement announcing his retirement,” a source said.