statesman news service
NEW DELHI, 19 JUNE: Notwithstanding Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with veteran BJP leader Mr L K Advani yesterday to put a lid on the controversy arising out of Mr Modi’s elevation as the party’s election campaign committee chief, all does not seem well in the BJP.
Developments in the past 24 hours on three different fronts, though apparently unrelated to each other, point to the fact that the BJP patriarch is still far from being pacified on the issues he had raised.
The first development is the decision of the Bihar unit of the BJP to abstain from voting on the confidence motion moved by state Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the state Assembly today. It is being interpreted as a move to open a channel of negotiation with the JD-U as per Mr Advani’s wish.
The second development is Mr Advani falling ill for the second time in a fortnight which prevented him from meeting RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat, who is in Delhi, for the specific purpose of ironing out differences between Mr Advani and the BJP leadership on the issue of projecting Mr Modi as the party’s face for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The third development, and the most crucial one, is Mr Advani’s close aide Mr Sudheendra Kulkarni writing an article, dubbing the Gujarat chief minister as an “autocrat” who cares “two hoots” for the party and calling party president Mr Rajnath Singh “foxy”.
In an article posted on rediff.com, Mr Kulkarni, who is an advisor to Mr Advani and virtually his man Friday, said the BJP chief has “astrologically-induced delusions” of becoming the Prime Minister.
Mr Kulkarni maintained in his article that despite his age, the 85-year-old Mr Advani still has a lot to contribute to the party and the country. He has justified Mr Advani’s opposition to Mr Modi and said the senior leader did not go back on the criticism he had made of the BJP in his resignation letter.
“An autocrat (Mr Modi) is sought to be enthroned, and a perfect democrat (Mr Advani) is being marginalised and humiliated… A self-centred leader who has shown that he cares two hoots for the party organisation and long-time party colleagues in his own state has suddenly become all powerful in the BJP’s national scheme of things, whereas a selfless leader who toiled for many decades to build the party brick by brick is being cast aside as a useless relic,” Mr Kulkarni said.
The article was posted on the website on 17 June, a day before Mr Modi visited Mr Advani and had a 45-minute one-on-one meeting with him.
Hitting out at Mr Singh, who went ahead with the anointment of Mr Modi while Mr Advani kept away from the national executive at Goa, Mr Kulkarni said: “And a foxy party president, who has his own astrologically-induced delusions of becoming India’s Prime Minister, has allowed himself to be prodded and dictated by vested interests to undermine Mr Advani’s position in the BJP."
Mr Kulkarni, who was a close aide of former Prime Minister Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, also hits out at the Sangh fountainhead the RSS, saying it “thoughtlessly weakened” Mr Advani’s position in 2005 in the wake of a “manufactured controversy” over his remarks that Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah was secular.
He warns that the “decay that has begun in the BJP" will most “certainly accelerate if Mr Advani is further humiliated and forced either to retire or to rebel”.
The BJP scoffed at Mr Kulkarni’s comments. “He can have his own opinion, who cares,” BJP spokesperson Ms Meenakshi Lekhi said, adding nothing was heard from Mr Advani in this regard.