L K Advani: Organiser to primary member

He charted the BJP's growth from bit player to ruling party.

Written by Pradeep Kaushal | New Delhi | Published on:June 11, 2013 3:14 am

He charted the BJP’s growth from bit player to ruling party. Along the way,he also sought a makeover in image from hardliner to moderate

As the RSS mentored the growth and expansion of the Jana Sangh,two people stood out for their fluency in English: Lal Krishna Advani and K R Malkani. The Sangh nurtured both. Malkani,who wrote well,ended up being the editor of the party newspaper,The Motherland. Advani,erudite,articulate and gifted with extraordinary organisational skills,became president of the party. Related: Enter Narendra Modi,exit L K Advani

Using those skills,Advani gradually acquired a complete RSS mandate to run and control first the Jana Sangh,and later its more liberal reincarnation,the BJP. It was a task he accomplished with a remarkable sense of ability. He built the organisation,took it to the farthest ends of the country,gave it a distinct ideological profile and firmly established it as a second pole opposite the Congress in the Indian polity. The credit for building the BJP into the second largest party — from two Lok Sabha seats to 182 in 1999 — goes entirely to Advani,agree those who have worked with him.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani between themselves provided a dual leadership,which came to be known as the Atal-Advani jodi in BJP folklore. Vajpayee,however,generally showed very little interest in organisational affairs and left that part to Advani. Though seen as rivals,the two worked mostly in tandem,with Advani faithfully playing a slight second to former prime minister Vajpayee. There was no room for a third person at the top. If anyone did showed any such ambition,as Murli Manohar Joshi did,they would get together to cut him to size.

Advani,85,has fought many political battles since 1947 when he,barely 20,became the secretary of the Karachi unit of the RSS. He never lacked in ideas or the guts to slug it out. When V P Singh tried to outmanoeuvre his adversaries by implementing the Mandal report,Advani took him on with his counter-mass mobilisation movement through the Ram Rath Yatra. If he saw the BJP fall short of a majority even under Vajpayee,he cobbled together an alliance,the NDA,even if it forced the party to put its key ideological issues on the backburner.

Today,a leader cast in such a mould has resigned all party posts,choosing to staying as a primary member of the party. The provocation is not just the appointment of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the chairman of the party’s campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Advani had given his consent to the move when party chief Rajnath Singh had met him ahead of the Goa national executive.

Advani had suggested to Rajnath that he “give some responsibility” — such as the election management committee — to Nitin Gadkari,something which Rajnath apparently was not keen on.

Among various things understood to have put Advani off,one is the way Modi works. A feeling has gained ground in the BJP ranks that Modi would now use his new post to muscle his way through and style himself as the prime ministerial …continued »

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