Millennium Post

The race for prime minister

The RSS might have asked L K Advani to retire from power politics and not to contest the next Lok Sabha elections, but the octogenarian leader has not lost his hope to fulfill his desire sit on the cushy chair of the prime minister of India. He is making constant bids to remain in the reckoning since 2009, when he was asked to make way for a leader of the next generation to occupy the post of the BJP parliamentary party’s leader in Lok Sabha. The latest bid to fulfill his desire is his blog, wherein he has predicted that there is a possibility of a non-BJP and non-Congress leader sitting in the chair of the prime minister after the next election to the Lok Sabha.

Advani has written his blog very meticulously, applying his journalistic skill to put across his viewpoint. It is worth mentioning that Advani has a past in journalism. In his blog, he has quoted two central ministers expressing their view about the Congress getting less than 100 seats in the next Lok Sabha election. Again, he has put in the mouth of the two central ministers the view that there would be government of the third front after the election. After expressing the opinion of the two unnamed central ministers, Advani finally presents his own opinion. He says there cannot be a third front government, but a government led by a non-Congress, non-BJP leader. He never says in his blog that there could be a possibility of an NDA government led by a leader of its largest constituent BJP. This is the way of belittling his own party by a journalist turned politician.

This is not the first blog of this kind written by Advani. Not long ago, he had written that the Congress is facing all round slides in the country, but the situation for the BJP is not better. Advani may be right in his assertion, but he is not a journalist now; he is the senior-most leader of his party and what he writes about his party cannot be seen as an objective observation of a political thinker. There is certainly politics behind it and what kind of politics Advani is playing is obvious to everyone.

Before writing these blogs, which are damaging to his party, Advani has ridden on a rathyatra
against corruption, named Chetna Yatra. There was no need of such a yatra, because the whole country was conscious about the corruption at higher places through media reports, political actions of the opposition of disrupting the winter session of parliament and Anna’s hunger strike. But Advani wanted to prove that, despite his advanced age, he is quite capable physically, mentally and emotionally to lead the party from the front and don the post of Prime Minister, if BJP led government comes into power. Once, he had even asked for the dissolution of the Lok Sabha and fresh elections to choose a new government.

As expected, the Chetna Rath Yatra did not pay dividends and in the Assembly Elections of five states held in the first quarter of 2012, Nitin Gadkari ignored Advani while taking major decisions. After 1990, Advani was indispensable to any major decision taken by his party, no matter what was his post in the organisation. However, during the Assembly elections of 2012, the party leadership did not consult him. It is said that Advani was not in favor of second term for Gadkari, but he entered into a compromise with Narendra Modi to ensure his second stint as the President of BJP. In return, he obliged Narendra Modi and in this way he raised the status of Modi as the strongest leader of the Party.

Now Advani commands neither organisational power, nor popular support. Popular support is with Modi and the organisation is in the hands of Gadkari, who derives his power from the backing of RSS. Advani lost the support of core BJP supporters and sympathisers because of his ‘Jinnah was secular’ and ‘the day of Babri demolition was the saddest day of my life’ statements.

This is the reason why Advani is now dependent on Nitish Kumar and his party to come into reckoning in the race for 2014 prime minister’s post. Shiva Sena chief Bal Thackeray says that there is tussle between Kumar and Modi for the post of the prime minister. He is not completely right in his assertion. In fact, there is race between Modi and Advani for the post. Kumar’s Janata Dal(U) is a regional party of Bihar, which has got just 20 Lok Sabha seats and that too with the support of BJP. If he fights Bihar elections alone, the number of Lok Sabha seats won by his party will reduce drastically. He is against Modi, neither for Muslim votes nor for the prime minister’s post, but simply to save his OBCs support base, which has moved from Lalu and polarised under him. If Modi occupies the top post of BJP, the very basis of Kumar’s politics will get eroded, because Modi himself belongs to a marginalised class of OBCs. Kumar is quite aware that if marginalised OBCs could desert Lalu in his favour, they can also desert him in favour of Modi. Despite getting defeated, Lalu still commands 25 percent votes of Bihar, because his caste is the single largest caste of Bihar, with over 12 percent population of the state. But, the caste of Kumar is hardly two percent of the total population of Bihar.

This is the reason why checking the rise of Modi inside BJP is a matter of life and death for Kumar. He may be ambitious for becoming the prime minister of India, but his fight against Modi is not merely a fight for the post of prime minister. For this he needs a strong Advani inside the BJP. His personal chemistry with both Advani and Atal has been excellent. Vajpayee is now out of the political scene and Advani is the only hope for Kumar to contain the Gujarat CM. (IPA)
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