Given Advani's long innings in the party, the emotional value of seeing him go can overwhelm everybody – and especially the media – for a while. Hence the huge flurry of activity to prevent his resignation from taking effect. Rajnath Singh has already said he has rejected the resignation.
Just when we thought Lal Krishna Advani had played his last card, he has played one more yesterday: his resignation from all party fora.
It is, of course, possible to exaggerate the import of this resignation. For quite some time now, Advani has been the party's T-Rex, someone who ought to have faded out long ago due to his growing irrelevance. He should have gone out after 2009, after he led his party to an ignominious defeat, but in India the old never retire. They have to either be pushed out or ignored. They just can’t be cast out without the neighbours commenting on it.
Given Advani's long innings in the party, the emotional value of seeing him go can overwhelm everybody and especially the media for a while. Hence the huge flurry of activity to prevent his resignation from taking effect. Rajnath Singh has already said he has rejected the resignation.
But, as with all such transitions, this too shall pass. The old must give way to the new, and the party’s decision yesterday to hand over the torch to Narendra Modi is a sign that it is willing to move on with or without Advani. Despite Advani’s objections, the party anointed Narendra Modi as the Campaign Committee Chief. It can only destroy its own credibility by backtracking on that and changing its decision just to please Advani.
Of course, as is always the case, the party obfuscated the issue by saying it won't accept Advani’s resignation either. So he is neither out not in. He is Comrade Trishanku not in his own heaven created by Sage Vishwamitra, but in his own hell, created by himself, but outside the hell that he says the BJP has become.
We will know of Advani's status only from his blogs as he has not resigned from this job as his own blogs editor.
In his resignation letter yesterday to Rajnath Singh, he talked about this hell. He said he has "been finding it difficult to reconcile either with the current functioning of the party, or the direction in which it is going. I no longer have the feeling that this is the same idealistic party created by Dr Mookerji, Deen Dayalji, Nanaji and Vajpayeeji, whose sole concern was the country, and its people."
For the record, the BJP stopped being an "idealistic party" the minute it came to power. Power brings you down to earth, and Advani surely knows this.
What we do know for sure is that he has changed him mind on Modi, his own former protege. The child has become the father of the man, and this is what Advani can't swallow.
We also know that with the RSS standing firm on Modi, nothing will be done to destabilise him.
This is not to say that Narendra Modi will, in fact, deliver the goods at the next election. Or that he is going to have it easy in the party. That remains to be seen. But there is no doubt that he is the game-changer. This is the only reason why the Congress and every other party is watching the goings-on in BJP with such great interest.
It is amusing to see who all are now batting for Advani. Murli Manohar Joshi, his party rival till recently and given to making snide remarks about Advani, is now all for Advani. Joshi fears his own coming irrelevance and is making his last stand too.
Digvijaya Singh, Congress party General Secretary, suddenly finds virtue in Advani a man who he normally decries as communal.
The BJP will be taking a risk with Modi, but for a party that lost two consecutive elections, it is a risk worth taking. It was Advani who stood in the way of this bold move, which has a fair amount of backing from the grassroots. It is right that he moves on.
The most dubious assertion in Advani's letter came when he said he was not happy with the party's "current functioning" or its direction. “Most leaders of ours are now concerned just with their personal agendas.”
One wonders whether Advani was also not following his personal agenda while opposing the wishes of the party.
The problem for Advani is that he was instrumental in creating the party in its current avatar. Post-Babri, the BJP's growth was largely his doing. In such a situation, you come to believe that the party owes you something.
The party, however, is about power, not about paying back its IOUs. Right now it is Modi who promises them a sniff of power, not Advani.
This is why the media is completely wrong in presuming that Advani’s resignation is a big deal. It is not. It is the last rant of a man whose time has gone. The so-called Advani camp is not a camp at all, but another group that is frightened by the changes that lie ahead.
Once they are clear where they stand, Advani will be forgotten.
From now on, it is the Congress and BJP's regional rivals who will want to remind us about Advani. The BJP would like to think of him only as a memory.
It is upto Advani to decide whether he wants it to be a pleasant memory or a painful one.
The writer is editor-in-chief, digital and publishing, Network18 Group
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