Ajay Singh | June 10, 2013
Just as I was about to board the flight from Goa to Delhi, I heard the news of BJP patriarch LK Advani resigning from all posts of the BJP except his primary membership. The wheel seems to have come a full circle for Advani who built the party brick by brick.
In his letter to party president Rajnath Singh, he pointed out how he felt out of tune with the prevailing political culture of the party which thrives on nursing personal ambitions. Advani's prognosis about what ails the party may be quite apt. But his grouse ironically emanates from a self-serving objective that refuses to recognise the inevitability of transition in a human organisation.
Curiously, today's front ranking BJP leadership was nursed and trained by Vajpayee and him. So if this set of leaders have turned into a bunch of self-seeking and ruthlessly ambitious group it is more a reflection on their mentors.
For those who pursue politics as a ruthless power game, the abiding principle of the sport is "those who live by sword shall die by it". This is the precise reason why Advani seems to be contradicting everything he stood for throughout his political life. For instance, he took up the Ayodhya movement under the veneer of ideology. But later it proved to be a deceptive cover for a power game based on stoking popular religious sentiments.
Similarly he was never uncomfortable with dubious methods of fund-raising within his own party by leaders like Pramod Mahajan. In the NDA regime he was accused of protecting many of his disciples, who incidentally form the front ranking leadership now, despite their questionable conduct.
Even with regard to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, he never showed even the pretence of remorse unlike Vajpayee after the 2002 riots. On the other hand, he defended Modi to the hilt when Vajpayee attributed the 2004 Lok Sabha defeat to the continuance of Modi in as chief minister. Advani's lament today is incongruous with his known position then.
A cursory glance at the history of the Sangh Parivar will bear it out that it was Advani who willingly allowed the political agenda to be dictated by the party cadre and street mobs in the early 1990s. His selective moral posturing today that the party cadre’s clamour for Modi should be ignored has few takers. After all that is the staple on which Advani brought up the next generation of leaders who are now more comfortable being led rather lead. Advani shares substantial blame for building this culture.
This is the precise reason why Advani's formulations are being rejected by those very people who grew under him. His political assessment that the Modi phenomenon would derail the larger issues may be rooted in ground realities and sound reasoning. But the party's cadre, attuned to being fed on rhetoric and emotions, would have none of it. Perhaps Advani faced a similar dilemma when the Babri mosque was pulled down on December 6, 1992 in his presence. Then he could feign ignorance of the consequences of stoking mob emotions.
Today he cannot. Because mobs and emotions destroy everything in their way; be it Babri masjid or L K Advani.
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This piece is based on a previous article by the authors published in Geoforum [Elsevier] in May 2019: available online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0016718519300764?via%3Dihub
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