BJP loses its face as Advani goes

BJP loses its face as Advani goes


He guided the fortunes of the BJP, hoisting the party to power which had just 2 MPs. That was largely due to his “rath yatra”, on which the party rode to success. He gave up the leadership of the party in favour of Vajpayee just when he was seen as the man behind the party’s success, at a meet in Mumbai.

Though he always said he saw in Vajpayee his elder brother and remained loyal to him, he did nurse ambitions of becoming the prime minister. He even attempted to change his “hawk” and hardliner image by praising Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. But his prime ministerial dreams were dashed in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. In 2009, an ageing 82-year-old Advani was not the one whom the people were looking for as their leader.

Described as the “iron man” who went on to become the home minister and deputy prime minister of the country, Advani, however, had to see some of the worst days the BJP had to face. The party he and Vajpayee led to power, sunk in 2004 and 2009.
Along with the debacle came the demands for his removal. Advani tried to assert himself, but ultimately had to give in. Largely, to the diktat of the RSS, the hand that guides the BJP.

How will the BJP do without its two stalwarts? An ailing Vajpayee and a sidelined Advani present not only a new scenario but also a challenge. The new generation leaders have taken over with no one having a mass base the two veterans commanded. How the party will move from now on is anybody’s guess.
Also, these changes have come up when the party is beset with huge problems, sinking mass base, especially in states like Uttar Pradesh, deserting allies, differences within the party leaders, etc. That it came a distance fourth in the last LS polls in UP does not augur well for a party that is desperately looking to latch on to a support base.

Advani calls himself a “yatri” all his life. “I became a rath yatri at 14 when I was just out of high school, and became a swayam sewak... this rath yatra would go on for life,” he remarked as he gave up the post of leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
The second Sardar Patel, as some one called him, spent his Emergency days in Bangalore and remembers those days always. Born in Karachi, Advani joined the RSS in 1942 at the age of 15 and later associated with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (a precursor to the BJP). Advani was information and broadcasting minister in the Janata Party government. He became home minister in the National Democratic Allaince government in 1998 and served as deputy prime minister from 1999 and 2004. He represents Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha.

As the Narasimha Rao government named him in a hawala scam, Advani took a vow that he would not contest elections until his name was cleared. He was indeed cleared of charges and he returned to the Lower House.

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