So, curtains have finally come down on the long and eventful political career of Lal Krishna Advani. Although a ripe, old 91, Mr Advani has been fit and alert and has represented Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha from 1991 to 2019 barring 1996 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee contested and won the seat. It is not clear whether he has been unceremoniously dumped by one-time acolyte Narendra Modi despite his keenness to contest again or if he had declined to contest. There are also claims that he wanted his daughter Pratibha to contest but was not obliged. In any case, Mr Advani has been largely silent in and outside Parliament during the past several years and it is unlikely that he will be missed.
The announcement, therefore, would not have come as a surprise. In a way, Mr Advani brought it upon himself by allowing Prime Minister Modi to slight him in public and by not raising his voice on public issues despite his long standing in politics. He marginalised himself and it was clear to the discerning observers that his time was up. Whether it was his fatal mistake when he hailed Pakistan’s founder M.A. Jinnah as secular that triggered his fall in the BJP and made him a pariah for the RSS is now immaterial. What History will, however, remember is that Mr Advani, a former deputy prime minister who is credited to have exploited Hindutva to propel the political prospects of the BJP, outlived his utility for both the party and the nation.
Even after Mr Advani ceased to be party president, for some time his grip over the BJP organisation was so strong that he managed to do back seat driving even when others helmed the party. Advani wielded considerable clout within the party even after Nitin Gadkari was imposed by Nagpur as party president, much to the chagrin of the then ‘Delhi club’ of the BJP. Delhi club was nothing but a group of senior BJP leaders led by Advani who called the shots much to the dislike of RSS mandarins.
To cut a long story short, Mr Advani saw to it that Gadkari was out as party chief when RSS tried to give Gadkari a second term. Gadkari filed his papers for the second term. But suddenly the Purti scam popped up in the media and Gadkari’s name figured prominently in it. Once again fingers were pointed at Advani who with his firm grip over the media was blamed for managing ‘bad publicity’ for Gadkari. The blue-eyed boy of the RSS had to beat hasty retreat from the job of BJP president.
It was vintage Advani who had then conveyed to the RSS that he was still the boss as far as the BJP was concerned. But RSS has its own sets of rules. Obviously, Advani had annoyed RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat who must have been itching to settle scores. RSS does not get itself embroiled in power tussles. It uses operatives to convey messages. Mohan Bhagwat got his ‘operative’ in Narendra Modi in 2014. Modis first demolished the ‘Delhi club’ and transformed it into ‘Ahmedabad club’ headed by Amit Shah who was the new BJP boss after Modi took over as the prime minister.
Advani’s wings had already been clipped when Modi succeeded him as the prime ministerial candidate. To rub wounds into Advani’s wounds, Modi put him into the group of “Marg Darshaks” ---- a club of elders with basically no job. Five years down the line, it is now history. Advani’s name has been unceremoniously dropped by none other than Modi whom Advani had crowned as the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001 and then saved his job in 2002 when the then Prime Minister and BJP star Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted to unseat Modi from Gujarat after the state failed to stop the infamous post-Godhra riots.
That’s the BJP for you- a party that runs on cliques, conspiracies and relies on back-stabbing once a leader becomes a liability like Lal Krishna Advani. Poor Advani, there is no one around now to shed tears on his political demise.