The Narendra Modi gamble
party to success in the 2009 election. Still, he wants to be
declared a prime ministerial candidate. This has made the
beginning of the generational change in BJP look ugly.”
What neither the Modi camp nor the Advani camp can
deny is that India’s main Opposition party has failed to
assure voters that it is a better alternative than the corrup-
tion-ridden ruling coalition.
Modi’s Goa party was spoiled because Advani was not
objecting to his elevation, but he was raising a moral question. That was more irritating for the Modi camp.
It was like the family patriarch revolting against the
young man who wants to surge ahead.
Advani’s letter also clearly helped the Congress party,
because these are the precise charges it has been making
against the BJP and Modi for a long time now.
Rajnath Singh requested Advani to not leak the letter to
the media; a hurt Advani, livid at Modi surging ahead without following intra-party procedures and without observing political niceties, ignored Singh.
While the Modi-Advani tussle came to boil last week, it
has been brewing for a while. For two decades, Advani represents Gandhinagar, Gujarat, in the Indian Parliament.
Since Modi’s arrival, Advani’s political stature in his constituency has been cut to size.
“Modi has systemically hurt Advani,” one of Advani’s clos-
est colleagues and Modi’s archrivals in Gujarat told India
Abroad. “He has ensured that he looks small in the eye of
our cadre. Advani has cried many times when he is unable
to suffer humiliations heaped by Modi. In public functions
in Gujarat, Modi would arrange for crowds in the audience
who would boo Advani as soon as he rose to speak. Modi
has kept Advani absolutely away from participating in
Vibrant Gujarat, the mega event to attract investment.
Modi has ensured that when Advani arrives in Gujarat he
is not welcomed at Ahmedabad airport by the party men.
Modi does not even allow Advani to have the first chance of
lighting a lamp at public functions.”
Advani, who even his worst detractors will never call fool-
ish, allowed Rajnath Singh to go ahead with the Modi
elevation plan. But he wanted to slow down Modi’s
march. India’s youth, Modi’s supporters say, see
Modi’s arrogance as self-confidence. Advani is evok-
ing Indian family values, where old men retire only in
Advani objected strongly to key decisions like
Modi’s elevation — which were to be taken inside the
all-powerful BJP parliamentary board, of which
Advani is one of the 12 members — being taken
without the collective nod.
Advani has, no doubt, given tears, blood and his
vision to the BJP. And he is unable to reconcile, as it
frequently happens in Indian families, to let the next
generation take the lead.
Privately, Advani is arguing that since Modi will be
unacceptable to most regional parties because of his
anti-Muslim image, why waste the opportunity present-
ed by on a platter by a corruption-ridden government?
The RSS, which has major say in the directions the
BJP takes, is not helping Advani because they know
Increasingly, Modi’s ‘dictatorial’ style has
also created many disgruntled voices. Many
observers, within the BJP as well as the
Congress party, feel a new party has been
created — the dissenters’ party. And they
could be crucial in a post-poll scenario.
Modi is seen as arrogant and ruth-
less. Vajpayee was accepted by non-
BJP parties because he was a benign human being. This
made all anti-Congress party and secular leaders comfort-
able in the National Democratic Alliance led by Vajpayee.
While the Modi-Advani tussle came to boil last week, it has been brewing for a while.
AMI T DAVE/REUTERS