The 36-hour revolt of senior BJP leader LK Advani within the party has fizzled out, further diminishing his stature, creating some embarrassment for the party and leaving many questions unanswered.
It is claimed that a compromise was reached but it is not clear what the terms are. There do not seem to be any substantive terms and Advani’s withdrawal seems to be more a surrender than a settlement. What is made known is that Advani withdrew his resignation from party positions and the party has offered that the issues raised by him would be discussed within its forums. What has Advani gained? Promise of a discussion is not acceptance or even a recognition of a demand. It is often an evasion or a polite rejection. By making it clear that Narendra Modi’s appointment as chairman of the election campaign committee stands, the party has rejected Advani’s unstated but clearly the only reason for his resignation. The offer of discussion was only a word of comfort.
Advani was unhappy with the support of the RSS for Modi and the interference of the Sangh in the affairs of the party. But it is ironical that Advani himself withdrew his resignation on the suggestion of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Party president Rajnath Singh, who had earlier on Tuesday denied any micromanagement of the party by the RSS, later announced that it was the RSS chief who helped to settle the Advani issue. Other issues like loss of idealism, lack of direction and pursuit of personal agendas by the party’s leaders, which Advani raised in his resignation letter, would hang in the air. They might provide some talking points to rival parties, but how would the BJP discuss them? Advani was pursuing his own personal agenda when he criticised the party, and that robbed his criticism of credibility.
Advani was a founder leader of the party and he had built it up. But ever since he failed to lead the party to victory in the last Lok Sabha elections, his role had become symbolic and sentimental. He failed to realise this. The revolt further changed his relationship with the party and the public perception of it. The tame surrender has made it worse. During the time of the revolt, he could even have been seen as a tragic figure fighting for his place in a changing world. But now, after the compromise, there is even a comic touch to the image.