With Advani’s exit, BJP adieu to elders

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NEW DELHI:- With the death of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee last year, the RSS-BJP no longer see the need to perpetuate the shabby myth of the kind that the creation of a “margdarshak mandal”, or guidance council, represented. In truth, this was only a gathering of the party’s fuddy-duddies who had long seen their day.

As such, Lal Krishna Advani, the architect of the BJP’s mass party avatar who was considered Mr Vajpayee’s co-equal in certain contexts, has now been firmly placed on the shelf. The BJP’s first list for the Lok Sabha election, released on Thursday, appears to be a confirmation of this. Mr Advani was MP from the safe seat of Gandhinagar. BJP president Amit Shah will be the candidate from there in the coming Lok Sabha polls. This may be seen as the end of the former stalwart’s life as an elected public representative.

In case a surprise is sprung and the 91-year old is pushed to contest from another seat, that will amount to cruelty. In truth, Mr Advani should have announced his own decision not to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Perhaps they waited to see if he would do that, and in the end just set him aside.

It remains to be seen if the BJP will adopt the same technique with another former party chief, Murli Manohar Joshi. It’s just possible that he would be given a ticket due to his caste, which appears to be somewhat disenchanted with the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, where eventually the ruling party’s fate might be decided.
But that should only mean that Dr Joshi, a former Allahabad physics professor, will be used to serve the larger cause of the BJP leadership and will have no other value. The signal is clear: the earlier generation should just go home and become a part of party’s lore.

Given UP’s importance for BJP’s electoral prospects in the Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to contest from Varanasi, the seat he now holds. Mr Modi’s presence in this patch of the country’s electoral landscape is evidently meant to shore up both morale and prospects in UP, where the fight may be hard. If the BJP bleeds seats in UP, there are not many places where it can make up the loss.

With the BJP’s old guard as good as gone, what does the GenNext look like? With Mr Modi firmly in the saddle the past five years, all debates looked to be settled. Before the Balakot strike, with the RSS being unsure of the BJP’s electoral prospects this time, the name of Union minister Nitin Gadkari was bandied about as a leader around which coalition partners could be found if the tally was below par. Those murmurs have dipped. But the results will be the eventual guide.


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