BJP and Advani: The whole drama about the resignation ..

Who would have thought that the situation would come to this. Even when there was a lot of discussion during the Goa conclave of the BJP regarding the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi becoming the Chairman of the whatever committee of the BJP, it seemed like scripted drama. And then the controversy that grabbed headlines for the whole of yesterday and today, the resignation of Lal Krishna Advani from 3 of the posts that he held in the BJP (he did not resign from all his posts though, since he still held 2 posts and continued to be an MP of the party). This was more of drama and less of a earth-shaking event.
After all, this was not the first time that there has been controversy regarding resignations and pressure conflict involving Advani. Even during the governance of the BJP, there was a big drama when Atal Behari Vajpayee felt that there were sections of the party that were highlighting Advani and it was finally settled; then there was the time when Advani got sozzled in Pakistan and decided to become a leader of the Samajadi Party (what all could define the leader of the BJP going to Pakistan and calling Jinnah secular in any way) – this got him a severe tongue-lashing from the RSS and with no support from anybody in the party; and then after the election of 2009, when the BJP could not come to power under Advani and instead saw the Congress gain seats.
All these were things of the past though, and in most countries, when a man is 85 years old, you do not consider him to be anybody who could be the prime ministerial candidate of the party; in many countries he and his party would be laughed out of the contest. And when you an alternate leader who is supposed to be the one who is a paragon of development and anti-corruption and who would ensure that large sections of the urban class would support him (even though there is a slight issue about him not really getting support from the allies who consider that the Muslim vote would run away from them if they are seen in the same city as Modi), the chances are dim.
So what explains the actions of Advani. For a party that has been struggling to become a party that would lead the campaign against the gross misrule of the Congress, opening itself up for public ridicule is the last thing that anybody would want to do. And yet, Advani caused huge embarrassment for the party when he resigned soon after Narendra Modi was given the head of the campaign body of the party, and that too in a way that he imputed that the party is heading into the wrong direction. At that particular instant and through the day, as the actions of the party and of Advani were highlighted in the press and in TV debates, a number of people who would be sympathetic to Advani would be reconsidering their stand.
People nearby who I was speaking to were unsure of what they could say – some BJP supporters considered that he had finally gone senile (or allowed others to move him into a position that has thoroughly weakened him), and others were amused by what was happening in the party that was supposed to be the party with a difference. What is funny is that this is typically how political parties in the western world work, where there is no assumption that anybody can become a leader of the party and there can be bitter contests for posts and leadership; in India, except for the BJP, almost all political parties are actually owned by one family or the other with the BJP being one of the few families that does not automatically see families of the top leader taking the next set of positions.
As I write this, the word of the past few hours is that the controversy is over, with Modi continuing to be the chairman and with the post of the Prime Ministerial candidate not automatically going to Modi. However, given that Modi is already a favorite of the BJP workers, and also since even Advani’s supporters were embarrassed by what he has done, any chance of Advani retaining any powerful say in the party is gone. Both Modi and the RSS will continue to move things in that direction, and will keep on chipping away at any power base that Advani has. However, if Modi slips up, then things will become more uncertain.

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