The awaiting stage of Bhopal: Will Advani crown Modi?

Advani never shared a stage with Modi. This time, Modi’s schedule shows a rally in Bhopal on September 25. It also says that Advani will stand beside him.

Bhartiya Janata party president, Rajnath Singh, announced in the media today that the veteran leader Lal Krishna Advani is “fine” with the anointment of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and their prime ministerial candidate. What does “fine” imply is a matter to explore by the way.

The senior leader was cornered by his party which went on announcing Modi as their leader for the 2014 general elections. Moreover, the party president Singh moved earth and sky over Modi’s anointment breaking Advani’s guards off his castle. He is currently bearing the wrath of some key party members plus few future allies for the “big declaration”.

Although Singh tried to pacify an angry Advani by hopping in a car with Sushma Swaraj and Anath Kumar hoping he will finally join the parliamentary board meeting and it will be like nothing happened. But Advani made it more obvious making BJP look bad by writing a letter to him. “When you came to meet me this afternoon to inform me of the Parliamentary Board meeting I had expressed my pain and had expressed my disappointment on your manner on functioning,” he said in the letter addressed to Singh. “I had told you that I will consider whether I should come to the meeting and express my views or not. I have decided that it is best that I do not attend the meeting,” he had concluded.

What followed was quite tasteless for the BJP leaders who decided to focus on other things instead of Advani. Every question was brushed aside by polite answers like “he is a senior leader and it would not be good to comment on him” or “he is the mentor of the party, he has a right to tell us things or two”. But the “things” that Advani told never came out of the party.

The whole country remained clueless over why Advani was adament on not going with the decision over Modi. He was well aware that Modi is the popular choice. It was also not that he doubted Modi’s ability for who would better know Modi than him? He was not even able to stop Sushma Swaraj and others from remaining deaf to the logic and stick with him. Reportedly, Rajnath Singh had to quite politely yet sternly make him come face to face with reality by saying “A baat jahan pahuch gayi hai, wahan se wapis jana sambhav nahi hai” (It not possible to return from where the matter has reached).

When Swaraj openly sided with him, she was covered by a force of Arun Jaitley, Venkaiyyah Naidu and Thawarchad Gehlot. Anath Kumar joined the scene much later and he took the responsibility of “peacemaker” thereafter. Nitin Gadkari was used by Rajnath Singh to pacify Advani but in vain. Muralimanohar Joshi, who had decided to be a fence sitter during the anointment, later joined the party.

Advani had always liked Modi. He was the one who took a humble Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’s pracharak under his wings. During his Rath Yatra days, Modi was his right hand. From organising rallies to devising strategies, Modi was everywhere with him. If Advani was behind building the party keeping himself always second, Modi was the one standing beside him. For BJP, they were like “father and son”.

We all know that Advani has or had prime ministerial ambitions.  His fallout with RSS and the later throwing its weight over Modi’s anointment should not even bother him. When Modi was given the reign of BJP’s election campaign in June, Advani resigned from all the party posts in protests. He skipped the Goa conclave of party then and now he skipped the crucial parliamentary board meet. This seems to be a clear case of ego. But we cannot really say that in the case of a man who went beyond party cadre himself for announcing Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s candidature in 1991. If we have to believe Singh, he (Advani) never said that Modi should not be the PM candidate. Then why is he sulking over the anointment? And to the extent that he was ignored by his own party? He in fact called Modi a ‘polarising’ factor for the BJP. What is it that polarises BJP over Modi?

The argument over timing or the riots which took place in 2002 cannot be the reason behind it.Though Advani had very well showed his anguish over the issue but, as Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar too said, Modi was very new to the administration. Someone experienced would have handled the matter differently. But it was learning on the job for Modi.

Since then, Advani never shared a stage with Modi. This time, Modi’s schedule shows a rally in Bhopal on September 25. It also says that Advani will stand beside him.

But the big question stands- whether Advani will crown Modi in Bhopal or choose to remain shut? The stage of Bhopal awaits.

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