Veteran BJP leader LK Advani’s latest statement, virtually reminding party leaders that BJP should never regard its political adversaries as “enemies” and “anti-national”, is the latest episode of him making a remark against the prevailing sentiment in the party.
This is not the first such episode. Previously too, the different lines taken from the existing sentiment has fetched mixed results for him. While the previous two bold lines taken by him yielded dividends for the party, Advani has suffered in some other instances.
As a first-term chief of the newly-formed BJP, Advani virtually junked the ‘Gandhian Socialism’ philosophy adopted by founder president Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Having taken the reins of the BJP after Vajpayee, Advani steered the party with a counter-narrative against what he called ‘pseudo-secularism’ of the Congress.
It was during the veteran’s stint as party chief that the BJP had committed for the Ram Temple movement during its Palampur session in 1989. The party, which was shrunk to two seats in Lok Sabha in 1984, reaped its electoral dividends in the subsequent elections.
At the peak of his popularity, Advani again took a different line when he announced Vajpayee as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in 1995 – months ahead of the 1996 Lok Sabha elections. It again paid dividends for the party.
However, his decision to describe Pakistan founder MA Jinnah as secular during his visit to Pakistan after the saffron party’s ouster from power cost him his job as the BJP chief in 2005. It took him years to regain the confidence of party cadres and to get him projected as the prime ministerial candidate in 2009. His prime ministerial bid, however, failed miserably.
Advani’s different positions since then, has, however, been duly ignored by the party. First, he dug his heels against the popular sentiment within the party to project Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate in 2013. He was disregarded by the party. The BJP’s decision eventually turned out to be electorally successful.
The veteran BJP leader later broke the silence within the party after the BJP’s humiliating defeat in Bihar in 2015 and launched a broadside against Modi and now party chief Amit Shah’s way of leadership. Party cadres discussed his attack in hushed tones but didn’t join his chorus.
The saffron party’s victory in Assam (2016) and Uttar Pradesh (2017) under the Modi-Shah leadership diluted Advani’s attack of 2015.
Notwithstanding the merit of his arguments, whether Advani’s position stood on the winning side of power equations will be known on May 23 when the Lok Sabha election results are out.