Hold that obit, the old fox is back in business

Within 36 hours of the Goa declaration, which seemed to suggest that the party was looking beyond Advani, he brought the whole parivar down on its knees begging his reconsideration


Ajay Singh | June 11, 2013

LK Advani
LK Advani

There have been many attempts in the past to write the political obituary of BJP patriarch LK Advani. But, much to the chagrin of political analysts, each time he bounces back. At the age of 85, when he registered his protest by boycotting the Goa national executive and resigning from key party posts when that proved to be insufficient, it appeared like he might have finally signed the warrant for his own political execution.

But within 36 hours of the Goa declaration, which seemed to suggest that the party was looking beyond Advani, he brought the whole parivar down on its knees begging his reconsideration. Not only was he was persuaded and cajoled to give up his sulk but got an assurance from BJP chief Rajnath Singh via the good offices of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that his concerns about the party functioning would be duly addressed.

Advani agreed to abide by the decision of the party’s national executive which endorsed Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s elevation as the chairman of the party’s campaign committee for the Lok Sabha election 2014. Perhaps those who thought that Advani would go to the extreme of disassociating himself with the BJP on the issue are disappointed by the perceived volte-face of the veteran leader. They seemed to have misread Advani’s resistance as revolt by an ambitious old man whose hunger for power is insatiable.

Perhaps Advani’s antics should be seen in the context of the uneasy equilibrium that exists in the Sangh Parivar. There is little doubt that in the last few years he was being marginalised within the BJP and his advice for caution was being ignored as the random rantings of an irrelevant old man. The BJP executive was in fact the culmination of this marginalisation when the old fox struck hard by keeping himself away from Modi’s coronation and resigning from the posts of the BJP. Interestingly he retained his position as head of the parliamentary party and working chairman of the NDA. This gave him leverage to operate in the political domain de-linking himself from the party apparatus.

Clearly Advani’s calculated target was the party leadership. He carefully avoided bringing himself in confrontation with Modi within the party and the Sangh Parivar, though the media painted it as Advani versus Modi. At the same time, he was careful not to find himself on the wrong side of the RSS leadership, particularly Mohan Bhagwat, and kept himself within the RSS code of discipline. This was the precise reason why Bhagwat personally called him up and requested him to withdraw his resignation. Sources in the BJP say that Bhagwat’s intervention on the issue was influenced by former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari whose cause Advani had taken up of late. By all indications, the veteran leader refused to be outfoxed by the younger generation which initially seemed determined to push him into oblivion. Walking silently into the sunshine is obviously not Advani’s style.



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