Nikhil Koul
L’Affaire Advani
This article originally appeared in centreright.in. CRI content has now been subsumed in swarajyamag.com. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of swarajyamag.com

It is quite amusing that people in political life sometimes live up too literally to their name. In the parliament once, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) told Atal Bihari Vajpayee (ABV),” Atalji, aap atal rahein “. ABV was quick to retort,” Atal to hoon lekin na bhooliye ki saath saath Bihari bhi hoon

Extending the joke in the opposite way, Lal Krishna Advani, who could have been Krishna in this battle of Kurukshetra against the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), has chosen to be Lal(meaning red) with his commie power swinging tactics at this crucial turntable overture. The terms of engagement and all these years kept on leave no doubt that far from being the Bhishmacharya of this battle,Advani had chosen to be Yayati long ago and remain steadfast about his quest for power.

Prior to the Goa meet of the BJP, Sandhya Jain made prescient observations on the course of the battle ahead and debunked the exaggerated relevance of Advani to the 2014 battle. The commonly forgotten fact with respect to 6 December 1992 is that the event was a reaffirmation of Hindu sentiment and awareness and had been waiting to happen. This can be seen from the writings of V.S.Naipaul, Nirad Chaudhuri and Girilal Jain, who Advani, mentions in his autobiography, supported the resurgent Hindutva.

But even then in the Liberhan Commission, Advani took the apologetic route thereby bowing down to the diktats of the ‘seculars’. The delusional authoritarianism that Advani exercised over the BJP led to collateral losses of the worst kind to its leadership.

The state leadership of the BJP has always been aces above the central one and all these years kept onscaling new heights in every department. Even as recent an election as the one in Karnataka, anyone could see that the BJP top leadership ended up losing by giving Karnataka on a platter to the Congress! If there was indiscipline and mismanagement all through the steady rise of BJP, it was due to Advani and the notorious BJP D-4.

In the context of the letter which he wrote to Rajnath Singh, Advani rues that the BJP is no longer a party of ideals which were envisioned by Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Deendayal Upadhyaya, Nanaji Deshmukh and A.B. Vajpayee.

However it was the same Advani who ended up destroying BJP’s ideals the most. Even the fact that he made the letter public instead of choosing to keep it private, betrays his concern and voice. The timing of the resignation drama also leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind now.

By carrying forward the legacy of nationalism bequeathed to the Jana Sangh by late SP Mookerjee, the BJP could have evolved as a distinct identifiable voice of the Indian Right. But for a long time that was not to be. In his maiden address to Jana Sangh workers in Kanpur, Advani said that the Jana Sangh was not a ‘left’ or a ‘right’ party but merely a ‘forward looking’ one.

Shortly after that, the first person to be expelled on the grounds of indiscipline from the Sangh was the fiery Balraj Madhok. Madhok had intense disagreements with both ABV and LKA on the fact that the Jana Sangh should adopt unique policies characterizing the Indian right and should differ from the left and the centre left. After expulsion Madhok alleged a conspiracy and faded into oblivion while Advani continued with his run.

The aforementioned incident vis-à-vis Advani’s attitude would have long standing consequences years later. Arun Shourie in his interview (watch here) to CRI and at other forums has called all parties homogenized, even saying that the BJP and the Congress are one party. Also, it is some misfortune that some of the best folks on the right are now working outside the fold of the BJP, in a disoriented way.

A disenchanted Arun Shourie has been writing books and exposing the rot in the system. It is to the BJP’s credit that they have allies like Shiv Sena and Akali Dal which have never broken their alliance, come what may. The only commonality all the non-BJP voices on the right and centre-right share is a demand for Narendra Modi as PM candidate.

All Congress allies have been turncoats at some point of time. But under Advani’s blessings, now even a JD(U) blackmails BJP with its 20 odd seats!. The indiscipline in the party that presumably a Ram Jethmalani or a Lehar Singh Siroya may have caused is actually the majoritarian voice within the party as well as the masses of the country, which have begun to ‘expect’ something in a democracy versus the stubborn decisions of the elite few, in this case Advani and the D-4.

Apropos Advani and his censorial attitude, one is reminded of a joke from Soviet Union – A man once wrote on a placard ‘Khrushchev is a fool’ and started going round the Kremlin. The judge who heard his case sent him to 14 years in prison. When he questioned the judge,” I can understand one day sir, but why 14 years? ” The judge replied,” One day for creating public nuisance and 14 years for letting out a state secret! “. By making his displeasure public, Advani has broken the same very discipline he claimed to uphold all these years.

Enter Narendra Modi; the decision to elevate him was not only the choice of the BJP cadre but also of the masses who wanted Congress to be decimated completely. In the game of politics, we all understand that what matters is not who wins or loses, but who has set the rules. Advani was long playing with the rules of the opponents, Modi on the other hand has managed to play with his own rules and win all the small battles.

Interestingly, for a party like the BJP, it was assumed that it would not give precedence to Modi over Advani given the place accorded to tradition and respect for elders in the conservative milieu. However, since the BJP managed to heed to its cadre and the voice of the country, the unthinkable had happened. In the political run-up, this was like a feather in BJP’s and Narendra Modi’s cap. The detractors were confounded, hence the ‘secular love’ and crocodile tears for Advani.

Like the line in Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’ goes, “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain“. The actions of Advani have made him a certified villain. His flickering non-existent ideology ended up benefiting BJP’s enemies the most. Be it his statement on Jinnah, the Liberhan commission or his blog, Advani had become a liability for the BJP long ago.

Now that the drama is over, it should be seen that Advani doesn’t pull the power strings for too long, because that will end up damaging the BJP more than the Congress can. The point that Ashok Malik makes (Read here, especially in the last paragraphs) is noteworthy. When the time was right for Advani, Modi too saved him over the Jinnah fiasco but now Advani clearly is overstaying in the camp. If tomorrow the patriarch’s decisions interfere with the nation’s interest, the detrimental nature of such an ego clash will come down heavily on the BJP.

Between Modi and Advani, there is a zameen-aasmaan difference, let’s not forget Modi gave his resignation to Vajpayee in 2002 when Vajpayee and Advani asked for it, without hesitation. It was only when the party karyakartas stormed; the decision had to be reverted. However, Advani did not want to resign after the Jinnah controversy which showed his fickle character.

Advani also as many believe was a lot softer on UPA and Sonia Gandhi and it is highly unlikely that Modi will let them go away scot-free if he comes to power. Over the years, Modi has evolved beyond just the CM of a state and a BJP leader. His winning ability cannot be questioned and the clamour around him is growing with each passing day.

In such circumstances, the responsibility lies with the Dhristadyumna of this battle, Rajnath Singh, to ensure that every factor that comes in the way of Arjuna i.e. Narendra Modi’s fight should somehow be sidestepped.