The BJP dropped LK Advani from Gujarat’s Gandhinagar seat for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, replacing him with party chief Amit Shah. Congress supporters expressed disappointment over BJP’s treatment of Advani but many reminded the party of its similar treatment of former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao or Sitaram Kesri.
ThePrint asks: Should liberals and Congress feel sorry for LK Advani not being on the BJP list?
Congress should save their sinking ship instead of spending energy on BJP leaders
National Spokesperson, BJP
LK Advani remains one of the tallest leaders in the BJP and a key guiding force. He has been one of the finest parliamentarians ever, and his contribution to the democratic life in India is unprecedented.
In the BJP, however, everyone is first and foremost a karyakarta – whether they are inside Parliament, or outside Parliament, or a minister. Everyone’s aim is to strengthen the party. We are a cadre-based party, and each karyakarta is very important. LK Advani is an inspiration for each and every karyakarta.
As far as liberals and Congress leaders are concerned – they are entitled to their views, but they should look at their own state first. The Congress party is in shambles, it is directionless, it has no ideology or mooring. Instead of wasting their precious energy on BJP and our leaders, Congress should rather spend it on salvaging their sinking ship.
In BJP, all the karyakartas are working towards one goal: strengthening the organisation, building a New India. Whatever role is given to a karyakarta, the tradition in the BJP is to accept it with thanks and give your 100 per cent. LK Advani is looked up to by one and all in the party for guidance, experience and mentoring.
Will innocent liberals shed tears for Modi-Shah when Adityanath makes them look moderate?
National Spokesperson, Congress
How a party deals with its leaders is frankly an internal matter of the party. In politics, there are several dynamics working simultaneously, impacting decisions of parties and leaders. While rival parties are free to take a dig on internal decisions and functioning of a party, one feels bad for the teary-eyed liberals.
Public memory is short. And looking at the reaction of liberals on the decision to deny ticket to Lal Krishna Advani, shows liberals suffer from total amnesia.
LK Advani introduced the strident tenor to our politics. He single-handedly owes to the poor of India, over three wasted decades – during which the collective energy and focus of the country were spent on divisive issues. Instead, our governments could have focused on generating more employment and lifted many more people above the poverty line during this period.
This was also the period where our liberals were celebrating Advani’s moderate contrast to Atal Bihari Vajpayee – who attempted but failed to remind Narendra Modi, then chief minister of riot-torn Gujarat, of his Raj Dharma.
Vajpayee is no more. Modi is completing his term as Prime Minister. He has done to Advani what Advani did to Vajpayee. Both used their protégés as masks to become the real face of the BJP; both made the masks irrelevant.
Modi makes Advani acceptable to liberals just as Advani made Vajpayee appear moderate. Will our innocent liberals also shed a tear for Amit Shah or Modi when Adityanath makes them look moderate?
Laughable how Left-Liberals called Advani a ‘Hitler’ then, and an ‘ageing Dada’ now
Distinguished Fellow, ORF
It has ceaselessly amused me how India’s Left-Liberals, (the #LeLi types), discover virtues in leaders of the Right at the fag-end of their lives. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was excoriated all his life but praised in death. A replay of sorts is being witnessed with LK Advani – the man who was the target of vitriolic LeLi hate speech, called ‘Hitler’ and worse, and made to suffer unbearable anguish and pain as an accused in a fake corruption case – is now being extolled as the ‘ageing Dada’ dumped by his family of ingrates. It’s laughable.
Advani is 91. Starting from high school years as an RSS pracharak, he was one of the three men who built the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and one of the five founders of the BJP. The other four are gone, The Great Helmsman remains.
He now deserves the time and space to be away from public gaze and scrutiny. To ruminate, to do the final sums of life and celebrate a life well-lived.
Advani should have retired in 2004 along with his lifelong friend Vajpayee. He was 76 then. Sadly, he did not, only to be humiliated over his Jinnah remark. The resounding defeat of 2009 only served to dent his charisma. It was downhill after that. Yet he chose to stay on, contesting the 2014 poll and wading into needless controversy.
Politicians should retire by 75, and ride into the sunset with dignity. The graveyard of history is littered with the headstones of men and women who believed they were indispensable. That truism should be a mantra for all, more so for inspiring leaders.
Congress backyard is full of instances of slighting the wise and elderly
Congress and anti-BJP liberals criticising Narendra Modi-Amit Shah for denying Lok Sabha ticket to LK Advani is a bit rich and reeks of rank opportunism.
In their assessment, Advani has been the original Hindutva icon, someone who was not only a rath yatri but singularly responsible for bringing a shift in policy towards India’s minorities. He stood, alone, in the way of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who wanted to remove Narendra Modi as Gujarat chief minister after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Age is not on LK Advani’s side. The former BJP patriarch’s stature has greatly diminished and become rather inconsequential since the 2009 general elections.
The Congress backyard is full of instances of slighting the wise and elderly. Indira Gandhi had fought a protracted battle to sideline Morarji Desai, SK Patil, SB Chavan, Gulzarilal Nanda and many others. K Kamaraj, who was instrumental in taking forward both the Congress and the country after Jawaharlal Nehru’s death, was later heard describing Indira Gandhi as, rather ruefully, ‘a big man’s daughter, a little man’s mistake’ — the ‘little man’ being himself.
Rajiv Gandhi used to relish ignoring and slighting the likes of Kamalapati Tripathi, Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Pranab Mukherjee and PV Narasimha Rao. Under Sonia Gandhi, the Congress humiliated Sitaram Kesri and Narasimha Rao the most. Kesri used to describe 10, Janpath as “tapta hua suraj” (a burning Sun), and add, “if you get too close to it, you will burn; if you stay away far too much, you will die of cold”.
End of LK Advani’s electoral career should bring cheer to those who care for a secular India
Editor, Rise of Saffron Power and assistant professor, Jamia Milia Islamia
The BJP’s decision to replace LK Advani with party president Amit Shah as its candidate on Gujarat’s Gandhinagar seat for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections suggests both — Advani’s marginalisation within the BJP and the grip of Modi-Shah’s leadership over the party.
Even the BJP cadre’s quiet acceptance of the sidelining of Advani implies a great deal has changed within the BJP since 2013, when Modi was chosen as the party’s prime ministerial candidate for 2014 elections. One needs to ponder why the BJP cadre is so ungrateful to one of its founding leaders who has played such a transformative role in the party.
There is no doubt that LK Advani created an electoral base that unsettled India’s secular political infrastructure during the 1980s. His marginalisation in the BJP, though an internal matter, should bring some cheer for the liberals, but his replacement by Modi, who is more aggressively committed to the Hindu Right agenda, should be a matter of greater concern.
The Congress has too many things on its plate to pay attention to Advani; at the same time, it has very few lessons for other parties on how to treat their elders. Nonetheless, the end of Advani’s electoral career should bring cheer to those who care for a secular India, even though Modi remains the only contender for the NDA coalition after 2019.
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