Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani’s decision to embark on yet another Rath Yatra, this time against corruption, is the first indication by a leading politician of the possibility of a mid term poll to the Lok Sabha.
Sensing that the elections to Parliament maybe held much before the scheduled date of 2014, Advani has taken the initiative in making it known to his party as well as the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) that he expected to be projected once again as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
The astute politician appears to have stumped the BJP president Nitin Gadkari who in an interview to HT sometime ago had said that the party would not project anyone as its PM nominee in the next elections.
The political meaning of Gadkari’s statement was that Advani was out and the BJP would look at a new leader at an appropriate time.
Advani whose candidacy was rejected by the Indian electorate in the 2009 polls resulting in the fall of his party’s total seats in Lok Sabha from 138 to 116 has not given up hope.
He is conscious that the projection of a younger face by the BJP would have lead to a big tussle among the second-generation leaders and by announcing his Yatra a few hours prior to the meeting of the Parliamentary Board, Advani has presented a fait accompli to the Saffron Brigade.
Sources said that Gadkari had met Advani on Thursday morning where the senior leader stressed the need for doing something about corruption since it had become a big issue after Anna Hazare took it up so successfully. In this context, he suggested that he was willing to go on another Yatra.
Gadkari is understood to have agreed in principle about highlighting corruption and informed Advani that he will like to make the announcement about a Yatra later in the day. But the senior Parliamentarian did not leave anything to chance and announced his Yatra.
Gadkari and others were left with no choice but to accept the decision, which they cannot oppose publicly.
Another reason for Advani to go on the Yatra on corruption is that he realises that the BJP drubbing in 2009 was also due to the middle class urban vote shifting towards the Congress, primarily because Dr Manmohan Singh was seen as a middle class iconic figure. This segment now was gravitating towards Anna Hazare and the section of civil society he represents.
The RSS and Gadkari had also realised that this shift was going to harm the BJP and had extended support to the Hazare movement. Advani hopes that his Yatra will bring this segment back towards the BJP as Hazare does not have a political structure and those who backed him may be attracted towards the BJP.
Another assumption on which Advani may have acted is that the government’s actions over that past two years have left everyone disillusioned and there was a huge power struggle taking place within the Congress.
Many other groups who feel that the UPA’s longevity was threatened not by the opposition but by its own suicidal traits and poor performance also share this thinking.
Advani obviously has taken the lead and does not want to be taken by surprise if this power struggle leads to the fall of the government and to mid term polls subsequently.
Many Congress leaders are very happy with the development while dismissing any suggestion of the UPA government being under threat.
One senior leader said that “Advani’s emergence will dilute Anna’s agenda on one hand and ensure a Congress victory in the next elections. A rejected PM nominee cannot be expected to be a winner by the electorate the next time’’.