Lal Krishna Advani’s unpredictable resignation from important party posts and his withdrawal of the same barely 24 hours later might have saved the Bharatiya Janata Party from a widening crisis, but the patriarch’s endless antics and petulant theatrics to gain political mileage has actually ended up diminishing his stature. At a time when it almost appeared, immediately after the Goa party convention, that reconciliation was possible between the different party factions, Advani’s impulsive act of resignation and the resignation letter itself, motivated by Narendra Modi’s appointment as poll campaign chief, indicated the depth of the chasm that separates the top leaders of the party, with its accusation of many following personal agendas. However, his withdrawal of his resignation now lays bare the obvious truth the BJP patriarch too is no exception from the rule, as he too has been following his own set of agendas in trying to desperately stonewall the anointment of Narendra Modi. Clearly, there have been serious differences and bickering at the top in the party and these may not have been restricted to the issue of the elevation of Narendra Modi to a top central party position. There may well be problems in the workings of the party which need to be resolved. But the resignation drama, had it not ended so soon, could have had serious consequences for the party. If no compromise was reached, there would have been no way to cover the state of disarray, with resultant tremors in the National Democratic Alliance.
Advani is still a formidable force as the party’s senior-most leader and as one of its founders. He has incontestably played an enormous role, for several decades, in the effort that has transformed the BJP into a serious political force in the country. There is little doubt that Advani feels justified in expecting to have an important, if not last word on many issues and perhaps he has felt that he has not been consulted meaningfully. Yet, in a critical year leading up to the elections, the party and Advani have to accept that Modi has emerged among its most charismatic leaders, popular not just with the party cadre but also with the general public. It cannot do for the party, in an election year, to ignore the public sentiment in favour of Modi or not to capitalise on it.