Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Advani tantrums

In recent days Lal Krishna Advani has thrown tantrums and caused embarrassment to BJP leaders. Narendra Modi is most popular among BJP members who want him to be BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Advani wants to counter Modi. BJP spokespersons had tough time to explain Advani’s actions. BJP opponents gloated about the infighting in BJP and some of them after commenting at length on the infighting concluded saying “It is an internal matter of the BJP. I don’t want to comment on it.”
Advani’s ambition of becoming PM remains unfulfilled. For long Atal Behari Vajpayee eclipsed him. In 2009 Advani had his chance. He attacked Manmohan Singh as the weakest PM India ever had. The attack boomeranged as Manmohan Singh reminded him of Kandahar hijack episode. BJP lost the election and it was downhill for Advani after that.
Modi worked on his public relations. He wooed industrialists. Ratan Tata shifting Nano plant from Singur to Sanand was a turning point. Soon other industrialists followed. Anil Ambani compared him to Mohandas Gandhi and Vallabhbhai Patel. Modi got Amitabh Bachchan to propagate Gujarat tourism. Many journalists talked well of Modi.
Many say Advani saved Modi from losing chief ministership in 2002 during BJP national executive in Goa. Arun Shourie said he was in the plane that carried Vajpayee, Advani, Modi and others to Goa. Vajpayee and Advani wanted Modi to resign. During the national executive Modi offered to resign. Then as if on cue people got up and shouted “No, no, absolutely not.” Shourie said “This is what we had discussed.” Members were unrelenting. Modi survived.
During the 2009 campaign Shourie mentioned Modi as the next PM after Advani. Not many in BJP thought Modi as a PM candidate at the time. Over the years many came to see Modi as PM candidate and by the middle of 2012 his position was strong. That made Advani and other PM hopefuls uneasy.
RSS wanted second term as BJP president for Nitin Gadkari. Advani opposed it. Ram Jethmalani, Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Shatrughan Sinha also opposed Gadkari. Rajnath Singh became president.
BJP has three allies in NDA; JD(U), SAD, and Shiv Sena. JD(U) leaders opposed Modi as PM candidate. It seemed they were egged on by Modi’s rivals in BJP. Shiv Sena leaders said Bal Thackeray wanted Sushma Swaraj as PM. SAD was neutral.
Advani tried to undercut Modi. He wrote to Rajnath Singh to have two election committees; one for state elections headed by Gadkari and another for Lok Sabha elections headed by Modi. Gadkari refused to head the committee.
Advani praised Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Chouhan said he is no. 3. Modi is no. 1, Raman Singh is no. 2. Manish Tewari commented “Story by Advani ji – Chauhan ji vs Modi ji vs Rajnath ji vs Sushma ji vs Jaitley ji vs Gadkari ji vs RSS vs BJP ji – civil war in Parivar ji.”
Feroze Varun Gandhi mentioned Rajnath Singh as PM candidate. BJP expelled Ram Jethmalani after he attacked BJP MPs for not fighting corrupt Congress.
Advani started throwing tantrums. He did not attend National Executive meeting in Goa. He was supposed to be sick. Some people demonstrated in front of Advani’s house in favour of Modi. Uma Bharti and Feroze Varun Gandhi had informed they would not attend the meeting. Jaswant Singh said he was sick. Yashwant Sinha said he was not sick, but did not attend the meeting for other reasons. At the end of the meeting on 9/6/2013 Modi was declared chairman of the election campaign committee for Lok Sabha elections 2014. Arun Jaitley congratulated Rajnath Singh for the bold decision. Uma Bharti, Yashwant Sinha and others fell in line. Sushma Swaraj left without taking part in the rally. Modi tweeted he spoke to Advani and had his blessings.
On 10/6/2013 Advani resigned from three party posts. He wrote: “Dear Shri Rajnath Singhji,
All my life I have found working for the Jan Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party a matter of great pride and endless satisfaction to myself.
For some time I have been finding it difficult to reconcile either with the current functioning of the party, or the direction in which it is going.
I no longer have the feeling that this is the same idealistic party created by Dr. Mookerji, Pandit Deendayalji, Nanaji and Vajpayeeji, whose sole concern was the country, and its people. Most leaders of ours era and now concerned just with their personal agendas.
I have decided, therefore, to resign from the three main fora of the party, namely, the National Executive, the Parliamentary Board, and the Election Committee. This may be regarded as my resignation letter.
Yours sincerely
L K Advani”
Rajnath Singh wanted Advani not to make the resignation letter public but Advani made it public. Rajnath Singh should have written “I accept your resignation wholeheartedly.” Instead he and other BJP leaders tried to persuade Advani to withdraw his resignation. BJP parliamentary board met and rejected the resignation. Advani followers said Advani was not against Modi but RSS interference in BJP affairs. That is a specious argument. RSS has always interfered in BJP affairs. Besides this time it was for Modi’s promotion. Advani was not humiliated. He spent his time in sulk and petulance. It was my way or highway. He had his personal agenda of becoming PM.
On 11/6/2013 Advani withdrew his resignation. At a press conference held at Advan’s house which Advani did not attend Rajnath Singh said Advani heeded RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s advice.
Ram Jethmalani said Advani is hungry for power. He wants to be PM. He does not care about the party. He destroyed the party in Karnataka. He will destroy the party in the country. Corrupt Congress will come to power. He has no role in Modi’s rise. BJP members said “All is well that ends well.” The fight for PM candidate can get bitter and split BJP.

Updated: June 13, 2013 — 8:05 am

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  1. Modi has been playing his cards well. It is known fact that Advani is still on the wings to grab the PM’s mantle. But then, since he seems to be a spent up force, his dream of becoming the PM will go ashtray and he will only stoke more fire of dissension in the party.

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