There could rarely have been a more opportune moment for the main Opposition party, the BJP, to try and trip up the government.
And indeed, some attempts, which can best be described as feeble, have been made to do so. But in the classic case of a person being one’s own worst enemy, the BJP seems to be scoring one self goal after another. First we had the tension between party president Nitin Gadkari and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, which was resolved to some extent only when the latter got his own way. The recent party executive hardly made news since it came out with little in terms of a future roadmap. And now comes the sucker punch with former party president LK Advani turning the guns on the party.
Much of what Mr Advani has said about the party’s mood being not upbeat is true. He is also right that the party erred in welcoming tainted BSP ministers who had been expelled by their chief Mayawati. The handling of Jharkhand and Karnataka undermining the party’s campaign against corruption is also valid. But despite the merit in all these observations, one cannot escape the suspicion that Mr Advani is speaking out more inself-interest than for the greater good of the party. He has forever been smarting at being pipped at the post, that of prime minister, by AB Vajpayee. All the reiterations of the two men that they enjoyed very cordial relations while the party was in power did not convince too many people. In the post-Vajpayee phase, it was crystal clear that Mr Advani assumed that he was the natural inheritor to the top post should the party come to power. Mr Gadkari has made it clear that no one will be nominated in advance. To make matters worse, Mr Advani seems to have run foul the powerful parent body of the party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh which controls all important decisions in the BJP. To Mr Advani’s chagrin, Mr Gadkari is a favourite of the RSS to the extent of it allowing him a second term as president.
Mr Advani is doing a singular disservice to himself and the party by refusing to make way for a new generation of leaders. No one doubts his talents but this is no way to end an illustrious career. The more he openly seeks the post, the less likely he is of either getting it or exiting the stage as a statesman. He should now be a mentor to the next generation of leaders instead of standing in the way of their growth. This would be the right way to be remembered, as a person able to rise above personal ambition in the greater good of the party. Not as someone who has to be dragged kicking and screaming from the political arena.