Like another tragic-comic figure from the pages of ‘fiction’, Lal Krishan Advani also woke up from uneasy dreams and found himself changed into a prime ministerial candidate. Unlike the other person, however, Advani was not totally surprised considering he had thought himself to be the prime ministerial candidate much before he announced in December 2006 that it was a no-brainer that as Leader of the Opposition, he was the BJP’s man for the top job. Much happened — or rather, didn’t — since then, but last week, we saw the man return to PM-in-waiting room. A peek into an eventful week for the till-this week rusty 80-year-old Loh Purush:
Dec 8, Saturday: Hey Ram! This Modi is shooting his mouth off and taking all the credit as the man who can single-handedly take on the Congress. I think that it’s time for me to turn things up a notch. [Picks up phone] Hello, Rajnath-ji? This is Advani. No, not Adnan Sami, but L.K. Advani, your party leader. [Looks into the phone] Kyaascharya vishay, he’s hung up.
Dec 9, Sunday: Phew, lucky I hadn’t thrown away Vajpayee’s number. I did manage to get through to him and therefore the whole Dilli BJP lot. Well, in the late-80s-early-90s, I used Ram without being religious to pick up the momentum. This time I’ll use the media without believing in them. I called up the BJP leaders who still take my call...er, sure, after being reminded by Atalji... and I’ve convinced them that the media is right about saying that Narendra Modi of Gujarat has become bigger than the BJP of Bharat. Oh, they took the bait, hook, line and Jai Shankar. Rajnath and a few others were holding out for a bit. Then I landed up at his place, turned off the light, wore one of those ubiquitous Modi masks and said, ‘Boo!’ He immediately agreed that I was to be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2009 general elections.
Dec 10, Monday: Aah, it feels good to be PM-in-waiting. I got a call from Prince Charles of all people today after the party made it official. “Nice work, old chap,” he said sounding exactly like Jaswant-ji. “I wish I now get lucky like you and get my ‘Mr Vajpayee’, that’s my mother, out of the way so that I can be finally king.” I made some encouraging sounds, after which I asked him after Camilla. He responded by asking me whether Narendra Modi could help out management problems at British Rail. I banged the phone down at that point!
Dec 11, Tuesday: Modi just called to congratulate me. “Badhhai ho, badhhai ho, Advani-ji.” Then suddenly he asked, “What does Narendra Modi have for Advan-ji?” I swear I could hear in the background a crowd shout out, “Good wishes! Good wishes!” No more pakoras tonight!
Dec 12, Wednesday: As the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, my first task was to go to meet my counterpart, the real Prime Minister. Unfortunately, he wasn’t at home. It was only later that I heard that Prime Minister Singh had said that my name was chosen as party candidate because the BJP was afraid that Modi will lose in Gujarat and then be ‘free’ to become PM. Blimey! I never thought of Modi losing and coming this side. I need a restraining order on Modi! [Picks up the phone] Operator, connect me to Arun Jaitely.
Dec 13, Thursday: I dreamt of the Qaid-e-Azam again. And I’m not talking about Atal-ji.
Dec 14, Friday: Where’s Togadia?! Tell him to out-Modi Modi before Sunday. I and only I am the PM-in-waiting! Hey, hang on. [Picks up phone] Is this Keshubhai-ji? This is Advani. No, no, not Adnan Sami!