BJP patriarch and former Deputy Prime Minister, Lal Krishna Advani’s blog on the eve of the party’s foundation day is clearly a no-holds barred criticism of the manner in which the organisation he founded along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Murli Manohar Joshi, is functioning under the present dispensation. By underlining the basic tenets which contributed to the constitution of the party, Advani has raised pertinent questions regarding the BJP’s campaign, which is seeking to classify all those opposed to its ideology as both anti-national and undemocratic.

The BJP was raised to strengthen the forces of democracy—not to weaken them—and as a party it never treated its opponents as enemies, but political adversaries. In his blog, written after five years of stoic silence, he reminded the activists that the rights of citizens could not be taken away or suppressed by anyone. The party has been committed to freedom of choice for every citizen at both the personal as well as political level.

Unnerved by the admonishment, the BJP leadership sought to play down Advani’s observations, with the Prime Minister himself tweeting that the senior leader had perfectly summed up the true essence of the BJP, most notably the guiding mantra of, “Nation First, Party Next, Self Last”.

However, the timing of Advani’s blog appears to have caught the BJP’s high command on the wrong foot. The veteran leader is by no means a political novice, and consciously wrote so, knowing that his views would find resonance in many quarters, including those of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. In fact, he has indirectly appealed to the conscience of the BJP workers, asking them not to be carried away by the passionate campaign slogans pasted all over, but adhere to the essential concepts of the party.

Speculation is rife that in the next few days, some other top leaders may publicly express their anguish. From a political standpoint, this is the only opportunity for those who do not concur with the beliefs and style of functioning of the current leadership to come out in the open. The upper caste traditional vote base of the party has been disillusioned over the repeated assertions by the Prime Minister of his being an OBC champion; whether this disgruntlement finds an expression in the saffron outfit would certainly be known before 11 April.

In political circles there are conjectures whether Advani’s thoughts were the pre-cursor of some impending developments. His reference to the Emergency and how it was opposed by the Sangh affiliates is not merely a coincidence. In 1977, when elections had been announced, after Indira Gandhi lifted the Emergency, the fear factor persisted. However, on 2 or 3 February, senior leader Babu Jagjivan Ram (his birth anniversary was on Friday, 5 April) stormed out of the party, along with Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, Nandini Sathpathy, K.R. Ganesh and some others, to form the Congress for Democracy (CFD). In fact, it was the formation of the CFD, and the revolt within the Congress, that accounted for a fresh surge of resentment against Indira Gandhi.

Historians and political scientists may have their own interpretations of the events, but for many political observers like myself, the formation of the CFD was the single most important contributory factor for the defeat of the Congress. A few days later, a political rally addressed by Babu Jagjivan Ram at the Ramlila grounds in Delhi, put it beyond any shadow of doubt as to which way the wind was blowing. Since then such a massive gathering has never been witnessed in the capital and the attendance was many times more than the public meeting addressed at the same venue by Jai Parkash Narayan, nearly a week earlier.

The CFD had dismantled the Congress and driven away any kind of trepidation experienced by the citizens, who had by casting their votes in favour of the Janata Party, vanquished the mighty Indira Gandhi. The Congress was virtually wiped out from the northern states, where a handful of leaders who had managed to retain their seats included Dr Karan Singh, Nathu Ram Mirdha and Gargi Shankar Mishra.

Subsequently, all Opposition parties that came together merged their identities with the Janata Party, thus ending the existence of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the Swatantra Party, the Congress (O) and the Socialist Party. Trouble soon erupted when an ambitious Charan Singh, prompted by Raj Narain, raised questions over the dual membership of the former Jana Sangh members, who despite being part of the Janata Party experiment continued to maintain allegiance with the RSS. Advani, who was a Union Minister in the Moraji Desai government, witnessed the political ostracisation of the Jana Sangh brigade, which was virtually treated as pariahs.

Therefore, when the BJP came into existence, Vajpayee and Advani always ensured that ideology never acted as a hurdle in realpolitik. The V.P. Singh government was formed on the crutches provided by the BJP and the Left parties, both ideological rivals. Vajpayee became the first non Congress Prime Minister since he and Advani were willing to accommodate ideological adversaries, while adhering to the coalition dharma. Having been an integral part of the growth of the BJP’s influence, the veteran leader does not want that what was achieved should be withered away.

Advani’s blog is a timely warning to the current BJP leadership that there can be no compromise on democracy, and rivals could not be dismissed as anti-nationals. Differences should be viewed in the proper perspective. Between us.

Replies to “L.K. Advani promotes BJP for Democracy”

  1. Examples of Jai Prakash Narayan, Vinoba Bhave, Madan Mohan Malviya, Mandela, Ex-President Jimmy Carter, Mahatma Gandhi himself more than any other Indian politician, show that it is possible for public servants to continue doing important, beneficial social work after their term of office, or by being inspired by idealism and sincere devotion to the general good. The greatest Kings of India – Ashoka, Chandragupta, Harsha – did not hesitate to abdicate their throne while still in good health and took to the higher way of living as vanaprasthas. It is a shame that in India, the land which more than any other, has produced a vast literature of renunciation and the glorious lives of renunciates, one finds only rancour, bitterness, vindictiveness, ingratitude by men who, after years of success and of popularity – like the Shatrughna Sinhas, the Yaswant Sinhas , and their likes in the other parties too – would rail against their former colleagues, and demean them, when they ought on their own initiative take to an extension of service in ways different from sitting in the Parliament. They tarnish the picture of India with their shameless display of ingratitude, of resentment, of pettiness, of smallness of character. When two generals went over to the side of Genghis Khan after betraying their own Chief, the Khan listened to their reports on the strength of the enemy and then had them executed. He said that he could trust traitors. In India the turncoats are garlanded, photographed, made hoopla heroes of a day, and recycled with a few words of stale, pompous heroics. It is such a disgrace. It is an ugly aspect of Indian politics. Advani did not attend his constituency during the last five years. The BJP is right to have the present President Amit Shah to contest the election in Gandhinagar. At 91 years of age Advani ought to have the grace to retire and do something worthy with his own initiative. He could write. He could volunteer to do something for the deprived and the weak. He could sponsor some aesthetic renewal. Why would he not promote the clearing of the Ayodhya quagmire? The Mahatma justified his worthiness of the “maha” when he carried the solo campaign against Untouchability, by criss-crossing the country , sometimes by walking, with only his courage and self-sacrificing zeal as his means. Instead of moping, why would Advani not seek worthiness of a “maha” attached to his name. It is fortunately appropriate that no one has deemed it worthwhile to propose inflicting the blemish of a Bharat Ratna on the “Maha” and thereby demean the name of M.K.Gandhi.

  2. LKA believed in “majestic Isolation” when BJP was an untouchable politically for most of the parties. It made LKA stitch NDA alliance and get into power when majority was not in his grasp. LKA lost PM’s race to ABV due to his acceptability quotient being lower. NAMO had the drive to create self-belief in BJP to work towards majority despite BJP Parliamentary board trying to create hurdles on his way during 2014 campaign. Also LKA did not have grace accept NAMO emerging taller than him in BJP and few of his root-less/clapper team were taking pot shots at NAMO – may be on his behalf. His team thinned and now vanished. He was the one who coined “intolerance” (at NAMO and his team at the help) which was picked up by award wapsi gang and others. LKA’s political success was due to many Kar sevaks getting killed. LKA has nothing to talk about. NAMO has no such baggage of guilt and his popularity was due to his success as CM of Gujarat. LKA is trying to make his presence felt by being of a nuisance value.

    1. Well said nd the critic that in our tradition in old age we do not contest again like he and others have done, instead contribute in a creative way by writing advising etc, is a very adequate one.

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