It is Lal Krishna Advani's turn now to show that among the BJP's top leaders, he alone can quell the tumult within the NDA over Narendra Modi's much-publicised elevation as the BJP's campaign chief.
Post the BJP's Goa conclave that formalised Modi's primacy in the impending assembly polls and the 2014 elections, BJP heavies who sided with the Gujarat CM stand disqualified to mollify Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. They include party chief Rajnath Singh and leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley who had a good rapport with the JD (U) leader.
Nitish had let it known long ago that his position against Modi was non-negotiable and could tell on the BJP-JD (U) alliance in Bihar. In normal circumstances, the campaign position given to Modi would have merited a mere press release. The reasons that made JD (U) apprehensive were the RSS's role and the attendant media hype over the "Bring Modi" chants at Goa.
The message emanating from the resultant efforts to forge a third front of regional parties is obvious and was conveyed by Advani himself to the party before Goa happened: an alliance cannot be built around Modi's persona regardless of his rising popularity. What made matters worse was the telling evidence of the RSS's remote-control of the BJP, be it the Goa jamboree or its aftermath entailing Advani's dramatic resignation withdrawn at the intervention of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
Significantly, Advani did not quit the chairmanship of the NDA or the BJP parliamentary party while registering protest over the happenings at Goa. That was rightly interpreted by Modi's spin doctors as part of the party veteran's plan to use existing and potential NDA allies to outflank rivals within the BJP. The denouement has come sooner than later.
Be that as it may, the Gujarat strongman's elevation in the first place was hasty and over-blown on two apparent counts: to insulate him from probes into the Gujarat-related encounter cases and to enable him take credit for the outcome in the assembly polls in which the BJP's hopeful of doing well.
The scenario got more complicated with Modi-confidant Amit Shah's UP visit as the new BJP general secretary in charge of the state. That raised heckles of another potential player in the envisioned third front - the Samajwadi Party.