Advani's political journey continues, splitting BJP down the middle
LK Advani - Modi's one-time mentor - is believed to be miffed with the Gujarat strongman being made the party's clear face for 2014. The reason, many say, is that Advani hasn't yet shed prime ministerial ambitions. Vikas Pathak reports.Updated: Jun 08, 2013, 22:41 IST
"This hall reminds me of the BJP meet here in 2002," a top BJP leader told reporters with a grin outside the venue of the BJP conclave in Panaji.
He was referring to a bid by Atal Bihari Vajpayee - backed by Shanta Kumar, Jaswant Singh and Arun Shourie - to oust Narendra Modi as Gujarat chief minister after the 2002 riots.
The majority in the party - including LK Advani - had opposed the proposal, and Modi stayed on to rise to the status of the party's key leader.
The leader added that something similar was happening now, a hint that the party could back Modi's elevation as its face for 2014 Lok Sabha polls despite Advani's opposition to a Modi-only pitch.
Advani - Modi's one-time mentor - is believed to be miffed with the Gujarat strongman being made the party's clear face for 2014. The reason, many say, is that Advani hasn't yet shed prime ministerial ambitions.
He has for the first time since BJP's foundation skipped the national executive meet of the party, reporting sick.
Many are discussing in hushed tones that he is sulking.
Yet, at 85, the patriarch remains active, attending party meets and Parliament sittings regularly, and blogging on a host of issues ranging from party matters to national politics.
He took out a Yatra from Sitabdiara in Bihar recently, which was seen as the patriarch's bid to project himself for 2014.
When many hoped he would rule himself out of the race on the Sangh's bidding, Advani kept all doors open by merely saying that the party had given him more than what the PM's post could.
He recently proved instrumental in denying RSS favourite Nitin Gadkari a second term as BJP president, and also put his weight behind all attempts to mollify BS Yeddyurappa in Karnataka, which many saw as the reason for the BJP's rout there.
He has tried to project Shivraj Singh Chouhan as a counterweight to Modi.
In the party's realignments, while Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley are seen as favourably disposed to Modi, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar are believed to be close to Advani.
But many party workers are displeased with the patriarch's bid to stall Modi, their icon.
The protests outside Advani's residence are being seen as symptomatic of this discontent, though party leaders denied the protesters had any BJP links.
If Modi does get elevated, will it mean the beginning of the end of the patriarch's illustrious career as BJP's frontline leader? Many say it is too early to write him off. His seniority, both as a BJP leader and Swayamsevak, makes it very difficult for anybody to openly disagree with him.
But Modi too is known to be a leader who doesn't brook opposition. The BJP's two 'lauh purushs' may be headed for a head-on clash.