The funny part is the BJP has a bigger problem over the timing of announcing Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate rather than his candidature for the top post. The sad part is a senior pro like LK Advani is creating the biggest obstacle in the way of Modi's anointment while one may remember that it was the same man who had shielded Modi after the 2002 Gujarat pogroms against demand seeking his ouster.
So why after more than a decade, when Modi has emerged as a chief minister who have three election victories under his belt and has become immensely popular, that Advani has suddenly started feeling that the Gujarat chief minister should not be announced the PM candidate at this moment? Is it because of the inauspicious Pitripaksh? Is it because of the assembly elections coming up? Or is there a third mysterious reason?
Advani played a party pooper by expressing his discontent over Modi's elevation as the chief of the campaign committee a few months ago. He even threatened to quit all party posts but the matter soon died down in the wake of the JD(U)'s decision to severe all ties with the BJP on the question of Modi's elevation. The 85-year-old leader got a second chance to show his mettle as a elder statesman this month but refused the change the position he has taken all along.
The irony is that Advani is stopping the same party which he had helped to rise
Advani is perhaps too rattled to come to the terms that with the announcement of Modi as the PM candidate, his final hope to become the prime minister will evaporate. The man has played a gigantic behind the rise of the BJP and always cherished the dream of becoming the PM of India. He had led the party in playing out majority politics and saw it rise to prominence. But yet, the deputy prime minister's post could what he could ultimately bag.
Today, the BJP's balance of power has shifted irreversibly. From a party of two titans, the saffron party today has seen the rise of the regional power centres. The decline of the central leadership of the party in the post-Vajpayee days has reduced the lag between the national and regional leaderships and the latter have slowly begun to overshadow the former. There is little wisdom in projecting the veteran Advani as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate today for it would only peg back the party.
But the leader himself should also understand the other side of the story. Even if he doesn't become the prime minister, he could play a constructive role of a mentor for the future leader just as the Mahatma had done once to the Congress leadership and not ruin his own party's chances. Greatness is not gauged by official recognition but by the capacity to cope with times, both good and bad, and one is afraid Advani left much to be desired through his reaction on Modi's candidature.
Neither Vajpayee nor Modi can be blamed for Advani's failure to become the prime minister. The former did not get a chance to declare Advani as his successor because of the shock defeat in 2004 while the latter has made a quick progress towards the national stage, propelled by his much talked-about governance model in Gujarat.
Trying to stop the announcement on Modi is most likely to backfire for the latter has gained a momentum and is also the party's trump card. The BJP also can not afford to remain without a poll face for a long time now. But more than that, Advani's rigidity could cause more humiliation for him in the public if the BJP, under pressure, decides to bypass him to declare Modi as the candidate for the top post in some time. Why let yourself down, Mr Advani? The party still needs you, but in the right manner.