BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani’s name was conspicuous by its absence on the first list of BJP candidates for the April-May Lok Sabah elections, announced on March 21. Advani’s three-decade old political relation with Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency in the capital city of Gujarat has come to a decisive end as BJP president Amit Shah is contesting from the seat. The change is widely seen as a justifiable move as Advani is 91 years old.
However, there is a feeling in a section of old timers among BJP supporters that the fag end of Advani’s political career was deliberately trampled upon after 2014. They believe that the younger lot in the BJP are not generous enough in showing their gratitude to the man who is the top most architect of the party in its present shape and form.
After all, Lal Krishna Advani is the man who took the BJP from 2 seats in Parliament in 1984 to occupy the seat of power in 1996 and 1998, albeit in alliance with other parties. And this is the man who recommended Atal Behari Vajpayee to the Prime Minister’s post, even when the ranks and files of the party wanted him in the hot seat.
Although he is held responsible for pushing Hindutva politics with his famous Rath Yatra to garner support for a Ram temple in Ayodhya, he was never seen uttering hateful words or delivering rabble rousing speeches, as seen today with leaders, cutting across party lines. To the contrary, he sought to drive intellectual debates around Hinduism (as a way of life) and other contentious issues.
Advani was the first politician who sought to create awareness about appeasement politics in India, in the garb of secularism. He coined the word, “pseudo secularism”, to describe such policies. He wanted equal treatment to all, appeasement to none.
In fact, it was Lal Krishna Advani, who first brought the nation’s attention to the issue of black money. He made this a poll issue in the 2009 Parliamentary elections.
Perhaps, in a consequence of his famous Rath Yatra, a chariot journey taken to garner support for a Ram temple in Ayodhya, Advani’s name was dragged in an illegal money case in 1990s. A quintessential conscientious politician that he is, Advani resigned his Parliamentary seat immediately. He re-entered politics only after his name got cleared by court.
The BJP supporters in the 1990s and 2000s looked no further than to Lal Krishna Advani as their possible prime minister. But that dream was never to come true, as Advani-led NDA lost the crucial 2009 Parliamentary elections.
Ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was emerging as the front runner for the top post and eventually occupied it. Advani’s admirers hoped the stalwart would be picked as the NDA candidate for President in 2017.
But a few months ahead of the Presidential poll, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) mysteriously moved the Supreme Court, seeking revival of Babri demolition case, in which Advani and other senior leaders of BJP faced conspiracy charges. But the case was closed in 2010 and these leaders were given clean chit by a trial court and then it was upheld by Allahabad High Court.
In May 2017, a special CBI court framed a charge-sheet, naming Advani and others as accused. Certainly, this was one of the painful moments for old timers among BJP supporters. They were at a loss to understand why the investigating agency under Narendra Modi government subjected the party stalwart to such humiliation.
Now it is official that Lal Krishna Advani’s politicial career has come to an end. Could this end have been brought about with a little more grace?