The unilateral declaration by BJP stalwart L K Advani and his deputy Sushma Swaraj that he would remain the Leader of Opposition for the next five years defies the RSS, which wants to make changes in the party. Advani’s coterie wants to hijack the party’s agenda before the Chintan Baithak scheduled next week in Shimla.
The announcement raises several issues. First, Advani was not elected the Leader of Opposition at any BJP forum. After the BJP’s electoral defeat, he announced that he would step down. But then withdrew his resignation under ‘pressure’ from party colleagues. At this point, the RSS indicated that changes were in the offing in December when BJP president Rajnath Singh’s term ends.
So by stating that Advani was in for the next five years, Sushma Swaraj was either deliberately misleading her party or was ensuring that she continues as his deputy and gets a plum position whenever changes take place.
According to a BJP office-bearer, “the statement is defiance of the RSS as the party is controlled by Advani’s men who do not wish to let go of things. Even the Chintan Baithak in Shimla was going to be a farce since the same people who are part of the core group are going to gather there.”
The RSS has made it clear that it could survive without the BJP but not vice versa. In this context, the RSS was to announce its plans for the BJP’s new leadership. But Advani and his coterie are hoping to pre-empt this.
Prof. Neera Chandok of the Delhi University Political Science Department said “it’s a battle for the future shape of BJP. There has always been a debate whether the BJP should be controlled by another organisation—the RSS. The party has to think about processes which lead to the election of office-bearers’’.
According to Prof. Bidyut Chakravarty of DU Political Science Department, “The BJP must realise that the future does not belong to Advani. It seems that there is total bankruptcy of thought’’.