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Advani: An unlamented exit

It is true that there is still scope for the party to honour the man, an official announcement about his future is yet to be made, but in public perception he has been given a decidedly unceremonious shunt.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

No politician, except perhaps in the Gandhi family, can claim ownership rights over a parliamentary “ticket”, and the fact is there is a retirement age for everyone. No doubt such truisms, and several more in similar vein, will be cited by spokespersons of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Yet all of them put together cannot satisfactorily explain why it required the denial of the Gandhinagar seat to the party patriarch, Lal Krishna Advani, to signal that he was deemed dead wood by the party he built up.

It was a sacking sans fanfare, and the proverbial salt was rubbed into the wounds by the seat going to Amit Shah who had been a junior member of the Advani team when the latter first won from there six Lok Sabhas ago.

It is true that there is still scope for the party to honour the man, an official announcement about his future is yet to be made, but in public perception he has been given a decidedly unceremonious shunt. No matter what the party may attempt by way of damage containment, it will not erase that impression.

Maybe Advani ought to have read the writing on the wall and voluntarily opted out of the hustle and bustle of electoral politics when the BJP imposed an age-limit, many others have done so realising they were not longer valued ~ over 50 sitting MPs have not been renominated ~ but even beyond the BJP-fold Advani was deemed something special.

So special in fact that it took a special effort to shut the door on him. That only one dissident (who also got the chop) dared speak out on the matter tells you something; that the outgoing Uma Bharati restricted herself to saying it was for Advani to clear the “mist” offers insights into the workings of the party.

The RSS and other elements of the Sangh Parivar have preferred to remain silent. Advani is much too respected an elder statesman to have sullied his image by an immediate reaction that would definitely triggered an unbecoming war of words.

Thus the strategy to let this action seem self-explanatory has proved self-condemnatory. To recall Advani’s stellar role in the Bharatiya Janata Party would be pointless. As pointless as the accusation that he made Hindutva part of the political landscape: which so many condemn in the most vicious of terms.

Of course he did so, and of course he helmed the party which saw a sharp change in its fortunes during his stewardship. Yet his “fate” points to a worrying reality ~ the demise within the BJP of the elegance and grace of the Vajpayee era. Of which confirmation is to be found at every election speech of those who thrive on the Advani-Vajpayee legacy.