After his comeback in the Gujarat elections, beating the anti-incumbency factor, Chief Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a future front-runner for the BJP’s leadership. But, by stating that Mr Modi will succeed him, leader of the Opposition LK Advani has stirred discontent in the party with many chief ministers feeling slighted. It is no secret that there is considerable discord in the party that has yet to find a leader like Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee who could be a rallying point. So, at this juncture it seems impolitic on Mr Advani’s part to have set off what could become an unseemly controversy.
Though we know that democracy is not a strong point in many of our political parties, the issue of leadership succession should be seen to be taken with the consensus of party leaders. Mr Advani was not pleased when Mr Vajpayee hinted at a national leadership role for the late Pramod Mahajan. Mr Advani has had to wait for years for an official endorsement of his leadership from the party’s stalwarts like Mr Vajpayee. By stating openly that he differed with Mr Vajpayee on the issue of Mr Modi’s resignation after the Gujarat riots, he will further divide the party. Many leaders, Mr Vajpayee being the foremost, had felt that Mr Modi’s resignation at that point would be seen as a definitive step towards accountability after the tragedy. It is also puzzling that Mr Advani did not make his position clear earlier and has chosen to rake it up at a time when he is literally on probation as leader of the Opposition. It is no secret that there is no love lost between Mr Modi and the RSS and Mr Advani’s statement in favour of the CM will not go down well with its leaders. The RSS is very much a deciding authority when it comes to the party’s leadership.
Mr Advani, no doubt, sees his own political fortunes tied up with Mr Modi, in which case he has done a disservice both to himself and the chief minister. Earlier, Mr Advani had faced considerable flak for his remarks on Jinnah that the RSS regarded as anti-national. A seasoned politician like Mr Advani should have known better than to stir up a hornet’s nest just when the party’s electoral fortunes were looking up.