This is not quite the fitting finale to an illustrious career. But veteran BJP leader LK Advani will now have to be content to have been always the bridesmaid and never the bride as a vibrant new leadership eased him out of the party’s parliamentary board, leaving him with the vague designation of mentor along with another warhorse Murli Manohar Joshi. While it is true that in all traditions the old has to give way to the new, in Mr Advani’s case, he has not gone gently into the night, but kicking and screaming. From the time that it became apparent that the party was going to anoint his protégé Narendra Modi as its main vote-catcher, Mr Advani tried every trick in the book to cut the ground out from under Mr Modi’s feet. But with Mr Modi rolling his victory chariot into Parliament buoyed by 280 seats, Mr Advani’s once famous rath moved into history.
It is not unexpected that Mr Advani feels so put out by the move of the Modi brigade. It is Mr Advani who transformed the BJP from a party of little consequence in politics to a party of governance. Yet, in its moment of electoral triumph, the crown went to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and not the hardline Advani with his fervent espousal of Hindutva. The RSS ,which had invested in him, threw him to the wolves when, in an attempt to smooth over the rough edges of his personality, he praised Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. The RSS demanded and got his head, a blow from which he never recovered. He perhaps thought that there was a chance for the top slot when the political tide turned against the Congress in the last Lok Sabha elections. But he did not bargain for Mr Modi roaring out of the paddock and crossing the finishing line in the political Derby, leaving Mr Advani in the dust.
Mr Joshi has done the wise thing by just keeping quiet and seemingly accepting the diktats of the party once known for its Bismarckian discipline. Mr Advani should accept the turn of events with statesmanship, something he has not displayed in the face of the young pracharak he handpicked becoming prime minister of a majority BJP government.