LK Advani Resignation…Namo Namah!

Immediately after the news of BJP patriarch LK Advani resigning from all party posts started flashing on TV Channels, a friend wrote on a social site “Advani resigns from BJP posts. Jethmalani calls Advani senile. Now it is Jethmalani vs Advani vs Modi. This BJP is turning out to be a saas-bahu serial and in fact, putting soap opera producers to shame.”

His comments were written in a lighter vein but they did convey so many things. Advani in his resignation letter made two pints loud and clear. One was “Most leaders are now concerned with just their personal agendas” and adding that he could no longer identify with the direction that the party was taking. The second point in his letter was ““For some time I have been finding myself to reconcile myself with the way the party has been functioning.”

Two days ago, Advani in his blog had discussed about “several other scenes from the Mahabharata, like Draupadi Cheer Haran and Bhishma Pitamah on his bed of arrows, sermonizing to the Pandavas.” In the blog he also discussed the story about a ‘meeting of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini had during the Second World War, in which Hitler tells the Italian Supremo that the sins committed by the two of them would prove very costly for them after death. When Mussolini said to his friend so far as he was concerned when his own end came, he would go to the Vatican and seek help from the Pope who is believed to have a Pass for Heaven. Hitler asked him to commend to the Pope his name also. This anecdote is accompanied by a demonstrative exercise with a pair of scissors, and a sheet of paper, in which the story ends up with both the two Fascist leaders landing in Hell, and only the Pope reaching Heaven”

The set of words as enunciated in these two documents could be analyzed in many ways. The resignation latter is a clear indication that it was the wail and woes of a man who built up the BJP from two MPs in the Lok Sabha in 1984 to one of the Top 2 Parties in India by the 1990s. Secondly, it could be interpreted as the helplessness of a man who remained the BJP President for three terms and weathers many storms from within and outside to build the party along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee that brought the NDA government to power from 1998 to 2004.

This could also be described as the anguish and angst of an octogenarian who thought that he had been unceremonious pushed into a pit by those whom he had so assiduously helped and nurtured. Or  was is it a brazen display of the frustration of a man who could never imagine that whose claim to become the BJP prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 had been dashed to the ground by the same disciple whom he had saved from getting sacked way back in 2002 after Godhara riots ?

Also, what did Advani’s description of “Bhishma Pitamaha “on the bed of arrows denote? Was he referring this in his own context where he has been treated in the same way by his own partymen or was it an indication of his own mistake like Bhishma who despite knowing the Pandavas had been wronged, chose to side with Kauravas as his own” Raj Dharma and ultimately ended up on a bed of arrows and he had to wait for at least four months in writhing pain to let Sun to turn into Uttarayan”? Interestingly, Advani also discussed the story about Hitler and Mussolini.  Was it his way of giving subtle hints that the BJP men would have to face the ire of Modi in the same way as Mussolini did to those who didn’t like his way?

Was he indirectly referring to the fascist streak in Modi which resulted in the Godhara riots and turned Gujarat into communalism vs secularism debate? Was Advani also hinting as Modi’s style of politics which has been a deadly combination of elimination (Haren Pandya) and character assassination (Sanjay Joshi)? On the face of it, perhaps Advani didn’t see it coming. Or perhaps he underestimated his rivals within the party and never imagined that he would be foxed by a googlie. He may have quit gracefully after he was totally and publicly humiliated by Modi elevation and he had hardly been left with a choice.  

In another way,  Advani’s move to resign from all posts in BJP vindicates the fact that how a senior man in a leadership role reacts to a younger generation taking over the leadership mantle from him. A patriarch who was an architect of BJP’S rise to the position of strength, seemed unable to digest the fact that someone far younger to him has stripped him of his natural claim to be the unchallenged Prime ministerial face of the BJP.  His critics are also questioning why did Advani enact this drama, especially after the anointment of Modi, when he is already presumed to have become a spent force? And this is at a crucial juncture when he had lost the game comprehensively against a regional satrap who, in a series of masterstrokes, edged out all his rivals from the Lutien’s Delhi.

Advani’s rivals are also questioning as to why did he play into the hands of his Congress rivals who, ever since the anointment of Narendra Modi as the Chairman of the Campaign committee, have been empathizing with him as if they are his best buddies? Or, is that Advani, in the wake of Modi’s anointment,  has chosen to unleash all this theatrics to bargain for his well-wishers who have thus far been engaged in doing bidding for him at his behest–overtly Sushma, Anant Kumar and Venkaiah and  covertly many others?   In the eyes of some political pundits, Advani has exposed himself to public ridicule by his latest move which many would dub as a desperate action of a loser who, left with no option, takes recourse to quitting as a pressure tactics to force the leadership to appease him to withdraw his resignations in exchange of some considerations.

In their considered opinion, Advani’s fall from grace almost hastened in the same proportion as the corresponding rise of Modi ensued in the power hierarchy of the BJP. But then, a leader of such a high stature as Advani did not conduct himself with dignity when some younger person was enthroned by the party with overwhelming blessings of the Party rank and file. It has been rather unconventional that  for the  first time the  BJP rank and file craved for some leader-and what could have been a better mechanism in  a democracy than to enlist the opinion of the cadres for electing a leader rather than few oligarchs joining hands to select a leader and then impose them on the party. And this is what Advani had been doing thus far by placing all his sycophants in the different positions of the party both at the centre as well as the states–incidentally even Narendra Modi was his confidante till he proved to be his challenger.

The fact is that Adavni was feeling suffocated after he faced a lot of criticism against his opportunistic political remarks in Pakistan when he lauded Jinnah as a secular leader. Of late, he had recovered his lost ground to a great extent and was vying for the top slot for himself or for his protege, Sushma Swaraj. But his aspiration met with a dead end as a mercurial Narendra Modi appeared from nowhere to grab the top slot, rendering Advani and his proteges fretting and fuming. Sushma attended Modi’s coronation while sulking from inside and left for New Delhi in a huff even before attending the Public meeting, whereas Anant Kumar looked too dazed and demoralized to say anything. On the hindsight, it also appears that Advani he had jeopardized his own image through such antics.

There is no doubt that he deserved a better treatment from his partymen and could have retired gracefully. He should have publicly blessed Modi on his anointment of BJP’S top leader and would have donned the role of Party’s adviser.

Did Bhisma in Mahabharata ever say to Duryodhana that he should be the ruler while Duryodhana should be following him as his assistant? Advani’s role in BJP was just like Bhisma of Mahabharata, but unfortunately he mistook his role and ended up losing all respect that he naturally deserved. He now will go down in the history as a frustrated old man whose unfulfilled ambitions with a bloated ego undid him politically and morally. By declaring Modi as its election campaign chief the party has projected him as a person of eminence, and yet it did not go the whole hog and declare him the Prime Ministerial candidate – a move which would immediately ask voters and allies to identify the party with him alone.  The moot question is has the political epitaph of Advani already been written. Or Narendra Modi is likely to be caught in the same trap that LK Advani was in the prime of his political career, and will thwart his Prime Ministerial ambitions?  Would Modi also be consumed by a communally divisive image thanks to the Gujarat riots in the same way as Advani’s Rath Yatra had the polarising effect in the 1980s and the 1990s? Advani had led the Rath Yatra that polarized India in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with communal riots following in the wake of his tour. This yatra culminated in the demolition of the Babri masjid in Ayodhya by RSS goons, with Advani cheering on at the site. This sparked riots all over India and the retaliatory Bombay blasts of 1993. Advani was the strategist and organizer, a street fighter who led BJP from two seats in 1984 to 161 in 1996. However, when it came to choosing the Prime Minister, the party went with Atal Bihari Vajpayee – man who doesn’t evoke extreme responses from either the political class or an average citizen.  In all likelihood, Modi is also going to find himself in the same kind of predicament because the present political climate in India is reasonably swayed by the interests of regional parties.In the national elections in 1991, the vote share of national parties was 81 percent. During the last elections in 2009, Congress had just 29 percent of the votes and BJP 19 percent, implying that the regional parties weighed heavily in deciding which national party stayed in power.

With Modi, therefore, the BJP runs the risk of losing a bunch of possible allies – former NDA ally Trinamool Congress, SP and BSP will not tie up with a party which projects Modi as PM for fear of losing minority votes. The JD(U) had already sounded the bugle against Modi and parties like DMK will think twice before falling in line with the BJP’s plans. Does that mean, Advani, despite having been ousted from the race would have the last laugh at Modi’s dream to walk in South Block saying: -hum to doobenge  hi sanam, tumko bhi le doobenge “ Only coming days would say which side would the camel of BJP sit.

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