Over the past two days, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders had refused to confirm if their ‘margdarshi’ L K Advani would address the party’s national executive meeting, but as it drew to a close on Saturday, it was only the veteran leader’s onstage presence that guided the conclave.
Described as one of the ‘guiding lights’ by the party in its website along with Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the 87-year-old veteran has remained silent since he was placed in the Margdarshak Mandal last August. He last blogged on April 23, and spoke at the party’s National Council meeting on August 9 last year. Since then, he has chosen to remain silent. His silence got an official stamp of approval on Saturday. 05
Over the past two days, party leaders gave cryptic answers to questions on whether Advani will address the national executive.
Responding to a question on why Advani did not speak, Arun Jaitley said, “He is a veteran leader. He can guide the party from whichever forum he wants.”
When asked about the discussions that might have led to Advani remaining silent, Jaitley was more blunt. “We don’t discuss internal decision making with the media. How we settle the programmes of the party, I don’t think we can share with you even in this world of transparency and RTI,” he said.
Over the past couple of days, it was becoming increasingly clear that the party could do without Advani’s speech, if not his guidance. “While preparing the agenda, we did discuss if we should include his name as a speaker during the final Margdarshan session. But there was a fear he may decide against speaking which could have led to an embarrassment,” said a party leader, who did not wish to be named.
A section of BJP leaders said party president Amit Shah had requested Advani to speak. “But Advani refused,” a leader said. He, however, added that the veteran leader participated in the national executive meeting in full spirit. “His gestures and expressions reflected it. He even clapped during the Prime Minister’s speech,” said the leader.
Since BJP’s formation in 1980, Advani has always spoken at the national executive meeting, except once. He did not speak at the Goa meet in June 2013, apparently upset over the party’s move to project Narendra Modi as the head of the campaign committee in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election.