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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Last Stand Against Change

By Swapan Dasgupta

Ever since he signalled his misgivings over the anointment of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the first among equals in the BJP, L.K. Advani has acquired a clutch of new friends. However, just as his controversial pronouncements on Mohammed Ali Jinnah during his Pakistan visit of 2005, earned him the short-lived backing of notables who otherwise harboured a strong allergy to the wider cause he represented, his most recent revolt has delighted all those who froth in the mouth at the very mention of Modi.

Unfortunately, in winning new friends, Advani has inevitably triggered a strong backlash within the BJP. His convoluted paean to Jinnah provoked a grassroots revolt and finally led to his removal as party president and the strengthening of the RSS grip over the BJP. In 2005, Advani lost the larger emotional battle but somehow kept a tenuous hold on the levers of decision-making by remaining Leader of Opposition and head of the parliamentary party. Furthermore, by converting a battle over ideas into a loyalty test, he was successful in retaining a position of nominal primacy in the party. He rightly calculated that the second generation leaders, most of them mentored by him, would never allow their dissatisfaction to overwhelm their larger gratitude to the man who catapulted the BJP from the fringes to the centre stage of Indian politics.

The Jinnah controversy, however, also led to the emergence of a very different Advani. First, the implicit trust that existed between him and the RSS was broken. Increasingly, Advani came to view the RSS involvement in the BJP as over-intrusive. He was particularly resentful that he had ceased to be the last word on party affairs. Secondly, Advani equated the criticism of his Jinnah pronouncements by his erstwhile protégés as acts of personal betrayal. Ironically, this bitterness with an ungrateful world increased after the NDA’s resounding defeat in the 2009 general election.

Ideally, as is the norm in democratic politics, Advani should have hung up his boots after the 2009 defeat. Instead, he retreated into a make-believe world, surrounded by durbaris who saw him as their only protection against a party where new forces were rising and new equations were being forged. By the time he was removed as Leader of Opposition and elevated to a ceremonial role as chairman of NDA, Advani had for all practical purposes become a resentful faction leader. At the same time, his desire to regain his absolute authority never waned and this could explain his unilateral decision to embark on yet another yatra against black money in 2011. Tragically for him, the political impact of that punishing journey was negligible. It was clear that Advani’s attempt to demonstrate his mass appeal had come to nought. Both the BJP and the electorate were looking for new leaders who could better connect to the 21st century and the aspirations of a young and even impetuous India.

The tell-tale signs of Advani’s diminishing appeal were there for all to see. The requests by candidates during Assembly elections for a public meeting to be addressed by Advani shrank embarrassingly. The central office often had to browbeat BJP candidates into hosting an Advani meeting just to prevent the old war-horse from feeling completely unwanted.

The tragedy of Advani is that he has been living in complete denial of his waning appeal. He has been single-mindedly seeking, or has been egged on to seek, yet another throw of the dice in 2014. However, unlike 2009 when his prime ministerial ambitions were accommodated by a party that didn’t have another fully groomed alternative, this time the rank-and-file of the party has clearly made up its mind. Initially a section of the RSS was hesitant and, indeed, a little fearful of Project Modi. But after some delicate Track-II negotiations, Nagpur has thrown its weight behind the Gujarat Chief Minister. Modi, it is now acknowledged, is the only leader who connects with both the initiated and an aspirational India.

Whether it was the unflinching stand of the RSS top brass or the onrush of grassroots emotionalism that finally prevailed in Goa last Sunday is best left to posterity to judge. What can be said with certainty is that Advani didn’t endear himself to either the RSS or the BJP by first trying to create impediments in the path of Modi, then boycotting the Goa meeting and finally resigning from a few (but not all) party posts. Insofar as he has successfully converted the boisterous celebrations in the BJP ranks into what appears to the outside world as an inner-party war, Advani still remains a formidable strategist.

His moves are well thought out. First, he has openly signalled his displeasure over Modi’s emergence as the BJP face for the 2014 election. He has become the rallying point for those leaders who are a little afraid of the consequences of a Modi takeover. He has made what was a pretty clear decision seem terribly contested. Secondly, he has imposed roadblocks in the path of the BJP’s alliance partners being overwhelmed by the Modi machine. This, he hopes, will prevent the BJP from putting all their eggs in the Modi basket and tempering their projection of the Gujarat Chief Minister. And finally, by muddying the waters, he has sought to keep alive his own chances of emerging as a stop-gap, consensus choice in the event of a fractured popular verdict.

There is a problem with this carefully crafted plan to convert defeat into victory. Unlike the Congress which lays great store on calculation, the BJP is a party that is inordinately influenced by emotionalism. In the BJP’s eyes, Advani is not an honourable dissenter as Vapayee was in the Ayodhya years; he is being increasingly cast as a petulant veteran who can’t stomach change.  

Whatever the future of Modi, Advani today stands diminished in the eyes of those who once venerated him. His new admirers will use him, but as a human shield against the advance of the very party he served with distinction for so long. 

Indian Express, June 12, 2013

25 comments:

sandeepgoyal said...

आदरणीय महोदय,

मेरी आपसे विनती है की आप अपना ब्लॉग हिंदी में भी शुरू करें, मेरे बहुत सारे ऐसे मित्र हैं जो की इतने महत्पूर्ण लेख नहीं पड़ पाते क्युकी वो अंग्रेजी में बात को पूरी तरह समझ नहीं पाते. भारत की अधिकांश जनता भी शायद यही समझ कर नहीं पड़ पाती होगी

Anonymous said...

The important message is NEVER trust this Advani-Vajpayee-Sushma & their sycophants. He may have withdrawn his resignation & rewind for the umpteenth time his days in Lahore etc.

BUT HINDUS should stand solidly behind Sri.Narendra Modi always keeping advani-sushma-vajpayee AWAY from the circle of TRUST. Give them lots of sweets & savouries along with FLATTERY to keep their egos satiated.Period.

It is time COLLECTIVELY our energies are harnessed for the good of HINDUS' BHARATH.
Having an inimical TERRORIST christian agenda promoting congress , dmk , dk , pmk & communists with their allies not only in the centre but in any crevice of our NATION is the BIGGEST threat to us. Not CHINA & PAKISTAN & ARAB countries as made out to be by ill informed manipulative media.

It is the greatest BLESSING Jayalalithaa & Narendra Modi have always had good rapport. Both have good Statesmanship qualities.

Hence it is time we HINDUS call Advani the wannabe swamiji from erstwhile Lahore & his sycophants as the wannabe devotees of this Lahore Swamiji , thrusting a Bhagavad Geetha & keeping them closeted in seclusion.

Digvijai Singhs & several others shedding faux tears for Advani ought not to make us defensive at all. That is akin to the wolf shedding copious tears for the plight of rain sodden sheep in Panchatantra Tales.

Narinder Palta said...

A GREAT analysis. It would be perfect if LKA effectiveness as chairman of the NDA was also held accountable vis a vis the loot that has gone on since 2004.
Its sad that he has such a -ve contribution to the BJP's challenge to the UPA and to our democratic health when it is at such important cross roads.
But BJP needs all its strength to line up behind its most winnable. Hope LKA's deeper feelings for BJP and the country will help him do just that.
Narinder

Anonymous said...

Beautiful analysis. Hope advani frames the lsst parah and keeps in his living room.

kaye said...

Very thought-provoking - when it all should have boiled down to the simple adage: the old order changeth yielding place to the new, it has become a huge power-struggle.

No Mist said...

Irrelevance has a new name - Advani. No grace, no brain left. He must be left alone to rot.

Anjali said...

Dear Swapan,

I listen to you on CNN-IBN shows. You are one of the panelists I look forward to have for political debates.

I would like to aks you the below.
Notwithstanding the undeniable growth story, both in quantum and perception, that Mr.Modi is riding on, how successful would he be electorally in

1. Andhra Pradesh (Jagan)
2. Karnataka (Recent polls)
3. West Bengal (TMC)
4. Kerala (No BJP)
5. Orissa (Mr.Patnaik's fort)
6. Bihar (????)
7. North-east (????)

It will be a gargantuan task for BJP, I believe, to form government on its own, which is the only conducive situation for Mr.Modi to be the P.M.
This is inspite of a miserable congress fighting anti-incumbency and million other elements playing against them.
What are your thoughts?

Cheers,
RK

nitin said...

Dear Swapan,

I follow you and bjp as well.
what i find people who are connected to bjp through ideology , not thru person are pro-modi.
People who are connected to bjp for their team work and principals somewhere are not pleased with modi-style.

Anonymous said...

RSS ka Chamcha!

Anonymous said...

Though BJP is saying about happy ending...I feel this is the beginning. Advani considering his behaviour in last few weeks are going to create hurdles in path of Modi, Rajnatha and BJP's common mission of 2014. It is like instead of operation, you are going for tablets. This may give temporary relief but will give pain time to time. Jasvant Sing, Yashvant Sinha, Sathrunga Sinha, Uma Bharti - so called heavy wait leaders without grass route or people support at this moment will use Advani for their satisfaction. For them, if BJP loose 2014 would be ok but MODI should not win at any cost. (Very similar like Keshubhai episode in Gujarat). Keshubhai and his team - like Suresh Mehta, Kashiram Rana, etc were working against BJP thought they were in party. Finally they form up GPP with single aim to out Modi (like Yedirupa did against BJP in Karnataka) from winging.
I felt there was no need to give such importance to Advani resignation and could have accepted. This may have give little pain at this moment but could have saved lots of problems which are now going to come. Advani & his team are going to use Media to create unnecessary hypes. Ultimately it is going to spoil BJP's image and give one tools to Congress.

Anonymous said...

fantastic analysis swapan da! As usual.Keep it up sir.
Actually advani could have gone into his old world of cinema, and, for a change, should have remained in the BJP as a guide and philosopher. he has missed a golden opportunity to do so and become a villain in the eyes of the party workers.

ViewersView said...

Swapan,
How can you call Advani's moves as 'Thought Out' when in 3 days + 36 hours he lost most of credibility he has earned in 50+ years of political career?

Sanjay G said...

Swapan ji,

Great reading !

Just wondering how can I call this a "thought out move" where Advani has lost most of his credibility he has earned in 60 years of political career in just 3 days + 36 hours?

Thanks

Sanjay

Anonymous said...

Sir,
Good to read article and responses.

I believe most of Advani's online baiters are die hard "Anti Congress" elements and not die hard "Pro-Modi". They dont want to see UPA III and see only hope in Modi. Advani's actions are seen by them as "Pro-Congress" and thats where online sleazing started.

Sanjay Gadhiya

Anonymous said...

Was following you for a long time now. Admired you. Not any more. You sound just like another modi supporter. Ground realities are totally different. Cadres are not the same as in 1990s. They dont need hardliners. Twitter wont win elections.

modi bhakt said...

My respect for Advani is lost. He behaved liked a stubborn kid crying for that icecream. I am sure a stature of Advani could have tried a better way. Whole euphoria of modi being promoted is lost and BJP is vulnerable. Congress is taking potshots and other parties also doing the same...that is only and only because of Advani.

Anonymous said...

"he has successfully converted the boisterous celebrations in the BJP ranks into what appears to the outside world as an inner-party war"


" He has made what was a pretty clear decision seem terribly contested".

"Congress lays great store on calculation".

Swapan Dasgupta ,

The above BRILLIANT statements by you are very important & please request BJP people to memorize them.

As anti HINDU , anti Narendra Modi channels would be inquisitioning Rudy , Smriti Irani & they need not become defensive & flustered.

Also warn Narendra Modi NEVER to trust , never to get close to this advani & his admirers. But from a comfortable distance praise & praise him for his "contributions" blah blah. Tell Narendra Modi how dhritharastra expressed his keen desire to HUG Bheem AFTER the war feigning remorse & how by Lord Krishna's Grace & strategy dhritharashtra's desire also got fulfilled & how Bheem was also PROTECTED.

NEVER give benefit of doubt at all.

We always profess to aspire to take India to AMERICAN standards.

But look at the ego hassles of useless indians.

Even a little bit of assertiveness drives many Indians go ballistic labelling it "arrogance". I have faced this throughout my life. Hence my strategy is to reply:-

" I am an AMERICAN trapped in an indian body among angry indians".

Anonymous said...

"he has successfully converted the boisterous celebrations in the BJP ranks into what appears to the outside world as an inner-party war"


" He has made what was a pretty clear decision seem terribly contested".

"Congress lays great store on calculation".

Swapan Dasgupta ,

The above BRILLIANT statements by you are very important & please request BJP people to memorize them.

As anti HINDU , anti Narendra Modi channels would be inquisitioning Rudy , Smriti Irani & they need not become defensive & flustered.

Also warn Narendra Modi NEVER to trust , never to get close to this advani & his admirers. But from a comfortable distance praise & praise him for his "contributions" blah blah. Tell Narendra Modi how dhritharastra expressed his keen desire to HUG Bheem AFTER the war feigning remorse & how by Lord Krishna's Grace & strategy dhritharashtra's desire also got fulfilled & how Bheem was also PROTECTED.

NEVER give benefit of doubt at all.

We always profess to aspire to take India to AMERICAN standards.

But look at the ego hassles of useless indians.

Even a little bit of assertiveness drives many Indians go ballistic labelling it "arrogance". I have faced this throughout my life. Hence my strategy is to reply:-

" I am an AMERICAN trapped in an indian body among angry indians".

Anonymous said...

Very very rarely out of the box lines of DMK Karunanidhi bring some much needed clarity.

Soon after that Jinnah fiasco Karunanidhi waited for all the noise to subside & summed it up pretty well thus:-

" Whether Jinnah was the cause of Partition I do not know...but Jinnah posthumously has effectively partitioned BJP".

Hence it is time we slot advani into the "secular charlatan" (Balbir Punj) slot.

Ravi Patel said...

This comment will surely not be published, but I all say it non the less. We should send this Paki import cockroach Advani back to where he comes from; the sewer of Karachi. The petulant swine is doing everything possible to discredit the BJP. This odious little diseased reptile should be booted out of the BJP. The sooner , the better! Bloody Jaichand Advani!

Anonymous said...

ROFL. Swapan da cannot read Hindi but he allows comments in Hindi on his blog. Would be truly hilarious if by mistake ma-bahen ki goes unchecked!!

Anonymous said...

What is there to ROTFL Anonymous above:-((

He has lots of friends whose mother tongue is Hindi. Who would always be ready to help him out.

At times I have also written certain Tamil words. It is assumed someone knowing Tamil among his friends would explain. And Internet is there
to explain today.

Hindi taught in school NEVER made me understand at all. It was TORTURE.

But Mohammed Rafi's spiritual & romantic VOICE made me buy Hindi-English dictionary & English-Hindi dictionary by one Pathak to search & learn.

Similarly when certain fanatics in Tamil Nadu decried singing of Carnatic compositions of Thyagaraja Swamigal , MuthuSwamy Dikshidar & Ssyama Sastrigal ADAMANTINELY insisting only tamil lyrics be sung ( the ridiculous story of dada saheb phalke recipient k.balachander a COMMUNIST pseudo brahmin's movie Sindhu Bhairavi music by Ilayaraja another anti BRAHMIN is exactly that. )...

Kaanchi Paramacharya rightly pointed out:-

" Those Compositions of Holy Trinity are DIVINE OUTPOURINGS. They are not the same as lyrics penned by also ran folks. When UTTERLY USELESS cricket scores etc are memorized by UTTERLY USELESS indians why not exert oneself to learn Sanskrit , Telugu , Kannada to understand & appreciate such priceless compositions....Likewise lots of our Slokas are Potent Manthras. To be recited / chanted provided one has all the requisite eligibility. Not like christians purloining & singing as their own telling all Gods same same we should also be given priority ....boooo hoooo discrimination....
one who follows such devious route would be PUNISHED at the most opportune moment....there are lots of nuanced NIYAMAMS to be meticulously adhered to..."

Ssivanandha Vijayalakshmi can speak several languages including Sanskrit, English , Tamil (mother tongue from Madhurai), Malayalam , Telugu , Kannadam . And those well versed in Sanskrit can effortlessly handle Hindi with elan. Through her I came to know about Keralite Ezhuthachan (HINDU not atheist communist converted cretin).

Anonymous said...

Sir,instead of belittling Mr Advani,why cant you give him benefit of doubt? Maybe he is genuinely worried that the nature of the party may change from collective leadership to something like BSP. After all he is largely responsible for the BJP to look like as it looks today.I may or may not be right,but how can you be so sure that it is nothing but his personal ambitions?

Anonymous said...

I am no fan of Mr LKA nor am i of Mr Modi----But the manner in which LKA was relegated to a place by no strtch of imagination he deserved-A father being treated like this is anathema to indian culture and that too if the disciple like a son who learnt all the tricks of trade from him would be the trigger

Jitendra Desai said...

In fact LKA has proved in last few days that it was wrong for BJP to have projected him as leader. He is no great leader of people. He has turned out to be like many party functionaries.
Thanks to LKA and his clique in Delhi, BJP has failed to come out with any great idea of ruling India.They have been busy criticizing Congress and debating on TV studios. It was Modi who has evolved so many new ideas for BJP [ Maximum governance- minimum government , Scale-speed-skills ,
SEZs, Vibrant Summits .....] It is tragic that in this hour of triumph and opportunities for BJP, many within BJP are trying their best to "ensure" that BJP ends up with 140 seats- so that Modi can be cut to size.