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Narendra Modi blunts LK Advani's latest jibe by owning it, reminds BJP veteran that timing is everything

LK Advani’s blog, which caused the Opposition (and even Robert Vadra) to shed copious amount of crocodile tears in public and much mirth in private, is the sad case of a patriarch refusing to accept the reality of his superannuation and raging against the dying of light. It won’t harm his target Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All the blog does is reveal the bitterness Advani nurtures in his heart and exposes him to ridicule from the 'liberal' brigade who see in his attempts at “statesmanship” a crow donning the feathers of a peacock.

The nonagenarian could have spared himself the ignominy. For bringing to public consciousness the realisation that another idea of India exists — one that is rooted in civilisational mores and lay buried beneath the hangover of India’s colonial past and manicured history — Advani deserved a more respectful send-off.

The new middle class, described in this piece in The Times of India as “a neo-Hindu middle class that combines livelihood in the ‘modern’ professions and a commitment to technology with an adherence to traditional values and robust nationalism, has emerged and grown in self-confidence,” could have been more appreciative of the work that Advani did to expand the party base from two seats in 1984 to 282 in 2014.

 Narendra Modi blunts LK Advanis latest jibe by owning it, reminds BJP veteran that timing is everything

File image of senior BJP leader LK Advani. Reuters

But Advani has never been a man to make it easier for himself. Right from 2013, when he played the resignation card as a last-ditch attempt to stall Modi’s rise within the party and projection of the Gujarat chief minister as the NDA’s prime ministerial face in 2014, Advani has always fought a bitter mind game with the party he built from scratch. Not for him the reading of the writing on the wall and a graceful exit. It has always been a dare to the party to take one more step against him, and then when that step is taken: a fresh bout of bitterness, denial and loss of more clout within the party.

Even in 2013, when Advani resigned from all party posts in a desperate gambit to make the BJP change its course in putting forth Modi as the man to lead the campaign, he was unwilling or unable to fully grasp the reality. It lay not just in the fact that Advani’s lifelong ambition of becoming prime minister lay shattered as his second and final bid was nullified. It also lay in the fact that the party was willing to look beyond him and usher in a second stage of development that doesn’t necessarily dismiss Advani’s contribution in making BJP a national alternative to Congress but builds on it.

It is pertinent to remember that Modi’s ascent in 2013 was not accidental. It was a clamour from within the party that entrusted Advani with BJP’s campaign in 2009 only to see him fail again as Manmohan Singh-led UPA retained power. That decision wasn't easy for the BJP to take because Advani alienated himself from the party in 2005 during his third term as BJP president when he went to Pakistan and praised Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s secular credentials. That created a trust deficit between the Advani camp and a section of the BJP. The RSS wasn’t too impressed either.

As per this article in The Print, Advani’s stock was down even in 2009, but he nevertheless “made his bid. A resounding defeat to the Congress-led UPA in the polls severely dented Advani’s stature, image and position within the party. But little did he know that by the next Lok Sabha polls, his irrelevance in the party would be complete.”

What Advani failed to realise was that the party had become a behemoth from the sapling that he once nurtured, will be governed by the law of nature: to seek fresh leadership to take it to another level. It took fresh thinking, new energy and a different perspective for the BJP to become the dominant pole in national politics: something which Advani could perhaps never have done.

To militate against change as the only constant in life is to become bitter in defeat. Advani may still have claimed the moral high ground had he written the blog and emphasised on putting “nation first, party next and self last”, before he was denied the chance to contest from Gandhinagar one last time. The unfortunate timing of his comments takes away from the gravitas of his words and show him in still more unfavourable light.

Modi put paid to Advani’s hopes of causing whatever little discomfort that he intended to by playing from the front foot and owning Advani’s sharpest jibe, thereby blunting its effectiveness. It could be the last lesson for Advani in politics: Timing is everything.

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Updated Date: Apr 09, 2019 12:23:56 IST

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