Margdarshak mandal: Shabby treatment of seniors, or a brave new BJP?

The 'elevation' of the BJP troika of LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee to the newly-formed Margdarshak Mandal on Monday has been largely seen as a not so covert way of keeping Advani and Joshi out of any decision making body of the party rather than a promotion.

The decision taken on Tuesday under the stewardship of the party's new president Amit Shah in a way completes the domination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in all nook and corner of the BJP.

Questions are also being raised if the Margdarshak Mandal will at all be functional or will it simply remain as a symbolic body to accommodate the veterans and lessen the degree of humiliation which would be more in case of a direct ouster.

What next for BJP leader LK Advani. PTI

What next for BJP leader LK Advani. PTI

"The Margdarshak panel is a body of very eminent leaders to guide the party leadership. It is a very respectable way of including them in the party affairs. The role of the Margdarshak Mandal will be more advisory in nature and it will be a moral guiding force in the BJP. It won't have any constitutional role," BJP spokesperson GVLN Rao told CNN-IBN during a panel discussion.

Defending the party decision of keeping all three veterans out of the highest decision bodies of the party—BJP parliamentary board and central election committee— the BJP member said that the party has only expanded its think tank.

"Every political party goes through a transition. Now new blood is coming into the party leadership. We are not like the Congress party where Sonia Gandhi is the leader for perpetuity. Unlike the Congress we are not a family-based or an individual-based party. Now a young team is in charge of the BJP. People like (Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister) Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Rajya Dabha MP JP Nadda are all very successful leaders of the BJP. To be frank, the kind of respect Advani, Vayjpayee and Joshi command in the party from party workers is far more than they will get by being a member of any unit of the party," Rao said.

Neither Advani nor Joshi shared a very comforatable relationship with Modi even before he became the prime minister.

Advani famously skipped the Goa national executive last year when Modi was declared chief of the party's central election committee. The party patriarch could not fathom that the person who he had helped rise in politics had attained a position that overshadowed that of his mentor.

Although Advani was somehow convinced to accept the decision, more drama unfolded a few months later when Modi was announced as the prime ministerial candidate of the party. Unable to digest the brazen manner in which he was sidelined, Advani quit from all party posts but was again coaxed not to take such a decision that would harm the electoral prospects of the country.

Although Advani remained in the party, the sense of mistrust developed to such an extent between the two that the party patriarch thought at one point that it was not safe for him to fight the Lok Sabha polls from his constituency Gandhinagar. He even thought of shifting to a safer bait to Bhopal but ultimately fought and won from Gandhinagar after Modi assured him of his victory. Joshi was also made to run pillar to post literally but his attempts to get the party ticket to fight the Lok Sabha poll from Varanasi failed. He was later allowed to contest from Kanpur while Modi himself fought from Varanasi.

Senior journalist Neerja Chowdhury felt that in whatever form it was, the seniormost leaders of the BJP were shown disrespect by the party itself.

"These people have given 50-60 years of their lives to the party. Not giving them two positions in the highest decision making body of the party is really sad. The party surely could have accommodated the two active ones. They have been removed at a time when they are physically and mentally fit. Their experience is so vast that many other leaders combined together won't have that much experience. Advani is the person in fact who had paved the way for Vajpayee to become the prime minister," Chowdhury said.

The journalist observed that leaders of their stature should not have been treated in this shabby fashion.

"Advani and Vajpayee had built the BJP for years together and gave it a solid foundation. It is for them that the party has established itself in the position it is today. They do not deserve this kind of treatment meted out to them at the fag-end of their careers. It is actually devaluing of moral values," Chowdhury said.

Senior journalist Kanchan Gupta agreed that the party has undergone massive overhauling the Narendra Modi stamp is imprinted everywhere.

"This is a transformative period for the BJP in many ways. The Modi-Shah factor has changed the manner how one looks at the party, the powerplay and the government. There is a huge seismic shift happening in the BJP. People with the same wavelength are brought in," Gupta said.

Notwithstanding the changes and its perceived indications, he was not so pessimistic with the future of Advani and Joshi as the Margdarshak Mandal provided them with a glimmer of hope of being in some relevance to the party.

"The parliamentary body takes political and disciplinary decisions in the BJP while the central election committee decides on candidates. They are the nuts and bolts bodies of the BJP. The Margdarshak Mandal can simply be a new editorial designation as we have in newspapers or it prove to be a very good decision to have a council of seniors. This of course will happen if the body evolves over a period of time and becomes a lighthouse for the party," Gupta said.

Another wait for time to tell the tale.

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Updated Date: Aug 27, 2014 08:12:57 IST

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