Patriarch versus party
The day should have witnessed the bursting of fire-crackers over the appointment of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the chairman of the party’s election campaign committee. Instead, on Monday, a pall of gloom enveloped the Ashok Road office of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Party leaders kept rushing to the Aurangzeb Road residence of BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani to persuade him to withdraw his resignation from the various committees of the party.
The veteran of many a political battle sent the nation’s principal opposition party into a tizzy using the missive to party president Rajnath Singh in the afternoon. This abruptly ended the celebrations in the Modi camp over his elevation.
Advani’s letter to the party president very cryptically said that BJP leaders had started to work for individual agendas and stopped working for the country. ‘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,’ Advani said in his note to Rajnath Singh.
While Rajnath Singh was quick to reject Advani’s resignation, the letter further weakened the party’s bonds with its allies. While pro-Modi allies like the Shiromani Akali Dal referred to the development as an internal matter of the BJP, its oldest ally Shiv Sena advised caution and expressed desire to extend adequate respect to the party veteran.
However, party’s largest ally the Janata Dal (United) expressed in no uncertain terms that without Advani it would be difficult to remain in alliance with the BJP. Incidentally, Advani has not resigned as the chairman of the four-party National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
On the other hand, sources claimed, it was left to the party’s conscience keeper, the Rashtriya Sewak Sangh (RSS), to bring truce between the Modi and the Advani factions. However, the RSS itself spoke in different voices with veteran MG Vaidya saying that some more resignations would follow as all was not well within the BJP, whereas leader Ram Madhav tweeted: ‘Hope the party leaders would persuade him (Advani) to take it (resignation) back.’
The RSS is unlikely to approve any roll back on the appointment of Narendra Modi. Later in the evening, the BJP parliamentary board, which met at the residence of party president Rajnath Singh, rejected the resignation of Advani. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who is a member of the board but was not present at the meeting, earlier twitted: ‘Had a detailed conversation with Advaniji on phone. Urged him to change his decision. I hope he will not disappoint lakhs of karyakartas (workers).’ Modi also clarified he has conveyed to the party president that he would abide by whatever decision the board takes in the meeting.