Bangalore, June 11: Goa marks a full circle for both the past and future of the BJP, namely, Lal Krishna Advani and Narendra Modi. Eleven years ago, before another party convention in Goa, it was the same Advani, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, who had backed the Gujarat chief minister after the riots in the latter's state in February that year.
He even had a difference with the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was against Modi's continuation and wanted him to continue in office.
According to senior party leaders who witnessed the differences between the two BJP stalwarts over Modi, Advani wanted Modi to continue for he believed that removing the chief minister would send a wrong signal to the party supporters who have rallied strongly behind him.
An instance of the duo's closeness was seen in 2005 when Advani was left isolated in the saffron family following his generous remarks on Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan. The mood was so sombre in the party that some leaders in the party even wanted to know whether Advani was planning to fight an election in Pakistan.
It was Narendra Modi who showed his willingness to mediate between the Advani and the RSS and although the old man had to step down as the party's president, it was arranged with a touch of grace. Advani later fought elections from Gandhinagar in Gujarat and praised the chief minister at all party platforms.
Then why suddenly the cosy terms turned sour?
According to political observers, Advani traditionally exercised more authority than say Vajpayee. It was Advani who was more heard about in the BJP's formative years, thanks to his aggressive politics and it was only after the era of coalition management and with it the need for a moderate stance came that Vajpayee gained prominence. But the equation changed once Vajpayee retired from active politics and Advani was left as the pitamah bhishma in the party, surrounded with junior and ambitious leaders.
2005 Jinnah episode and 2009 poll loss saw the beginning of Advani's end
But the Jinnah episode and the growing rift between Advani and RSS perhaps marked the beginning of the end of the leader who wasn't growing younger. That Advani wasn't having a pleasant time with the party was evident since that time.
It was his stature in the party which still made him a natural choice for the top post at that point of time but once the 2009 election results went awry, Advani's stature began to wane. The next set of leaders have reduced the gap between them and Advani since the last big poll and a speeding Modi is about to overtake the veteran. Something which not many self-made and ambitious person relishes.
It is futile to try to derail Modi for it is his time, just like the 1980s and 1990s belonged to Advani himself. It is a sad sight that one of the founder-members of the party is fighting with his successors over succession.
It is important for Advani to learn a lesson from the Mahatma on how one can remain immortal despite not becoming a post-holder or from various great statesmen who paused for a moment to make a fresh assessment of their position.
A small error in judgment can see one thrown easily into the dustbin of history.