Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
On the occasion of Bharatiya Janata Party's foundation day on April 6, veteran party leader Lal Krishna Advani tried to enlighten party workers by writing a blog. This blog became the talk of the town as it directly took potshots at the present leadership of the party.
In the blog, Advani wrote, "The essence of Indian democracy is respect for diversity and freedom of expression. Right from its inception, the BJP has never regarded those who disagree with us politically as our "enemies", but only as our adversaries. Similarly, in our conception of Indian nationalism, we have never regarded those who disagree with us politically as "anti-national". The party has been committed to freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as political level." The reference to the politics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah in this blog is obvious.
Amidst the election campaign, Modi has attacked the Opposition for 'helping' Pakistan on Pulwama and Balakot. Shah, along with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has termed the Opposition as 'anti-national.' While criticising the Congress Manifesto, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley ridiculed its advisers as the 'Tukde Tukde Gang.'
Advani has attempted to remind his old colleagues of the party's so- called traditions in an attempt to distance himself from Modi-Shah politics ahead of the elections.
While the clichÃ© does say 'better late than never', I wonder if Advani's blog is an exception to it. We cannot take Advani seriously. Let us not forget, this is the first blog he has written since Modi became Prime Minister. In the past five years, Advani has refused to utter a word about Modi's policies whether it is violence in the cow's name, agrarian crisis, the demonetisation disaster, muzzling of media and other democratic institutions or Modi's everyday lies.
Advani has written this critical blog after Modi-Shah took away the last shred of his dignity by denying him a ticket from Gandhinagar in Gujarat. BJP veterans Yashwant Sinha or Arun Shourie spoke long ago. Both are petitioners in the Rafale case in Supreme Court. Advani never publicly supported their dissenting voices. A leader who loves democracy and the Constitution, fights for it, in spite of the consequences. Advani's blog, therefore, is nothing but musings of a disgruntled veteran.
Advani says the guiding principle of his life is 'Nation first, Party next and Self last.' He is fond of reminding us of Indira Gandhi's Emergency days. But public memory is not always short. Post-Emergency, Advani is the original enemy of the 'Idea of India'. His Ram Rath Yatra was a direct attack on the Indian Constitution. He may find his place in history as a man who instigated India's second partition. Does he really have the moral authority to speak about democracy and the Constitution?
In the 1984 Lok Sabha elections, BJP was reduced to two seats under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Advani understood the message from its core voter and made Hindutva the plank. With the Shah Bano judgment, the then Congress Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi provided him an ideal opportunity on a platter. A violent Ram Janmabhoomi Andolan, Rath Yatra and the Babri Masjid demolition followed the opening of the Ram temple gate. Advani was the torch-bearer of hate in this period. He is one of the main accused in the Babri Masjid demolition.
Unprecedented riots followed after that, in which 2,000 innocent citizens were killed across Northern and Western parts of the country. India can't forget the poison Advani spread in the land of Gandhi. His Rath Yatra was a political weapon that sent shivers down the spine of minorities and alienated them permanently.
A major part of India still suffers sleepless nights remembering Advani's villainous politics. I remember how BJP and Shiv Sena workers threatened and abused activists and journalists during those difficult days. Advani or other Hindutva leaders never tried to stop them. In fact, they used this to their political advantage in next elections. Narendra Modi was a foot-soldier during Advani's Rath Yatra in Gujarat. It was enough training ground for his future politics that led to the 2002 riots. Thanks to Advani's Rath Yatra, Gujarat became a laboratory for the Sangh Parivar for two decades. Personally, Advani encouraged and promoted Modi.
After the 2002 riots, the then Prime Minister Vajpayee wanted to sack Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat, but Advani protected him. Modi trampled all democratic traditions in Gujarat, ran the government and the party with an iron fist. Advani never seemed to have a problem with it.
The danger of Modi's ambitions dawned upon Advani in 2013. But it was too late. BJP had already decided to designate him as a PM candidate. BJP wanted a leader who could deliver. Advani was passÃ© after the 2009 Lok Sabha election defeat. And Modi systematically sidelined him. Advani would have never thought his pupil would do this to him. Today, he must be repenting for promoting Modi -- the most autocratic Prime Minister after Indira Gandhi.
Not only has Modi dumped Advani and other senior BJP leaders, but destroyed all democratic traditions in the Hindutva party. Insiders say Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat is also worried about Modi's all-encompassing influence. Modi has become the sole proprietor of BJP and the party cannot win elections without him. A section of BJP leaders agree with Advani's blog, but are totally helpless.
Advani can only blame himself for the hole he finds himself in. He created and promoted the poison that is today widespread in India. Some liberals have praised Advani for his blog, as they perceive him to be 'softer' than Modi. But there is no soft or hard poison. Poison kills.