Hindu Sena members celebrate outside senior BJP leader L.K. Advani’s residence in New Delhi on 9 June after Narendra Modi’s elevation as BJP campaign chief. PTI
anish Tewari must be delighted. L.K. Advani has confirmed in writing what he has been claiming for years, that the BJP has now become a party of opportunistic individuals chasing not the public interest but their own (presumably selfish) agendas. Indeed, that the merest flicker of idealism is no longer to be found within the party. The Advani Letter is well on the way towards becoming a prominent plank of the Congress and UPA campaign against the BJP and its allies. Thereby, Advani has done an immense favour to the UPA, and hopefully they will reciprocate the gesture, perhaps by awarding him a Bharat Ratna. Certainly Advani must be sincere when he portrays the BJP as a party of time-servers that, by implication, no decent individual could possibly be a member of.
Which is why it is surprising that Advani forgot to resign from the BJP itself or from the chairpersonship of the BJP parliamentary party. A man as honourable as Advani would surely not want to lead those whom he has so excoriated in the letter. But when exactly did Advani discover the rot within his party? It must have been very recently, for a man as honourable as himself would never have remained in the party — sorry, some party committees — once he saw it as a gang of opportunists. Which is why admirers of Advani are a trifle bewildered at his forgetting to resign from the BJP itself and, even more surprisingly, by his withdrawing his resignation from some party committees the next day itself, without at all repudiating his letter.
Ram Jethmalani was expelled from the BJP for casting a smidgen of doubt on the integrity of selected leaders of what passes itself off as the country's main Opposition party. However, instead of doing the same to Advani, six members of the Parliamentary Board trooped to his residence and begged him not to leave. Clearly, although they are each in their sixth or seventh decade of life, the Delhi Six feel as helpless as little children should Papa walk away. Now that it is clear that at least six within the highest body in the BJP lack the confidence to function without constant guidance from their ageing hero, what kind of a message does that send to voters soon to judge whether they can be entrusted with authority over the governance of the country? By his letter, Advani has severely hurt the BJP. By their desperate plea for him to reconsider, the BJP's Delhi Six have harmed the party's image even more.
As for Narendra Modi, who is being opposed within not only the Congress but in his own party not because he may fail — as they claim — but that he may shock the pundits by actually securing 175 or more seats for the BJP. He is certainly a polarizing figure, and because of his caste background (important in a country where this social scourge refuses to disappear) may cut deeply into the vote banks of the SP, the RJD and the JDU, should Nitish snap links with the BJP. Samizdat (the invisible information system) may catch fire with anticipation of the possibility of India's first Backward Class Prime Minister. Add to that the fact that his first job was as a teenager making tea for his father to sell on railway platforms in clay pots, as well as the fact that his relatives still live in extremely moderate circumstances, unlike for example the families of Lalu Yadav or Mulayam Singh Yadav. Stir within the mix support from that Yadav stalwart, Baba Ramdev, and the swelling tide of majoritarian pride that a Narendra Modi nomination for the nation's top job (till Manmohan Singh took over in 2004 and adopted the Chinese system of the party being superior to the government) would be likely to cause, and there are rational grounds for believing that the analyses of psephologists that the BJP cannot reach even close to double figures may prove to be wrong. Narendra Modi in 2013 is a force in Indian politics of such uniqueness that the only parallel which comes to mind is Indira
Gandhi during 1969-71, which is why the BJP's leaders are wary of his ascendance, while everybody else in the party is euphoric. Should the public rallies that the newly anointed Campaign Committee chairperson is planning materialise, and should they be a success, he may be unstoppable even should Nitish Kumar, Naveen Patnaik and others join with Ahmed Patel and L.K. Advani in seeking to block him. The BJP's oldest leader must be hoping that Modi will get sidelined well before the Gujarat CM hits the campaign trail and shows who really counts: the dozen at the top or the millions lower down.