With the consummate ease of the lawyer that he is, BJP leader LK Advani seems to be able to argue the case both for and against his own party. At a time when the party is directionless and debating whether or not to project Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as a potential prime minister, along comes Mr Advani to say that people are quite disillusioned with the BJP as also with the Congress. He was critical of the way the Karnataka imbroglio was handled while at the same time lauding both Mr Modi and Shivraj Singh Chouhan as role models.
It is clear that Mr Advani is not about to throw his weight behind Mr Modi but is hedging his bets. It is possible that Mr Advani has still not ruled out the possibility that he might emerge as a compromise candidate should the BJP be in a position to form the government after the next election. But Mr Advani is doing damage to the party he helped build up by airing his reservations publicly. Unlike former PM AB Vajpayee, Mr Advani has never been considered a unifying figure in the NDA. But now given his age, he ought to play the role of mentor and become a facilitator for sorting out differences.
With some allies clearly displaying their unease with the BJP, this is hardly the time for a senior leader to add to their reservations by suggesting that the BJP is a house divided. Mr Advani, given his stature, cannot escape responsibility for the state of affairs in the BJP today. Since it lost power to the UPA, it has been more reactive than proactive. It has simply not been able to come up with a big idea. Once the votary of liberalisation, today, it does not seem certain which side of the fence it is on. It also seems uncertain whether it should showcase its adherence to Hindutva or portray itself as a moderate force. These are many of the unresolved issues that the party faces.
Mr Advani should take the lead in initiating a debate on these issues within party forums. Instead, he seems to be behaving more like a naysayer bent on dragging the party down. The lawyer in him cannot be unaware that he cannot argue for the defence and prosecution at the same time. As of now, he is only adding to the confusion in the party which has very little time to get its act together before Elections 2014.