Recently, when LK Advani lauded Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s efforts in turning around a ‘sick’ state while adding that Narendra Modi had it much easier in Gujarat; he clearly gave out signs of a larger rift.
What seemed impossible till about three years ago when Modi made sure to personally receive Advani at the Ahmedabad airport during the BJP patriarch’s Gujarat visits, now was a reality. The cracks in the relationship became more glaring when Modi started sending his representatives to welcome the Gandhinagar MP instead.
The rift became clearer when Advani told the BJP national council at Surajkund last year that the party should reaffirm its commitment to secularism with an eye on “NDA-plus.” People interpreted it as a pitch for looking beyond a Modi-only theme.
The old BJP stalwart was also missing from Modi’s swearing in ceremony at Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad in December last year.
All this when Advani once went on to defy Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister’s decision to remove Modi in the 2002 national executive committee meeting over his alleged role in the post-Godhra riots.
Once his protégé, Modi had clearly left his patriarch far behind to the extent that people even attributed Advani’s Gandhinagar victories to Modi’s charisma.
When Modi skipped a BJP executive meet in 2011over his bête noire Sanjay Joshi’s return from political wilderness under Nitin Gadkari, many attributed it to a frosty relation with Advani.
There were reports that Advani wanted to begin his Rath Yatra – a renewed self-projection – from Gujarat, but Modi wasn’t keen on this. Advani eventually launched the yatra in the company of Modi-hater Nitish Kumar.