Harish Jharia

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13 June 2013

LK Advani’s resignation following Narendra Modi’s elevation and its effects on BJP’s 2014 election strategy

Harish Jharia

Lal Krishna Advani, the 85-year-old BJP veteran, resigned from all BJP posts on 4 June 2013. This is for the third time in last eight years, when BJP leader LK Advani has resigned from the top BJP posts. The three occasions of his resignations are as follows:
  1. LK Advani, one of the founder members of BJP, had first resigned as party president on June 7, 2005, following stern objections from the RSS and right wing outwits against his praise for Pakistan founder Md Ali Jinnah. Advani described Jinnah as a "secular" leader during his six-day Pakistan visit. He had described Jinnah as one of the "very few who actually create history". Nevertheless, Advani, withdrew his resignation from the party chief's post after extensive negotiations, ending a emergent leadership crisis in the main opposition party of India.
  2. However, after about six months he again stepped down as party president on December 31, 2005, in order to bring down the Jinna controversy to an end. He was then succeeded by the current party President Rajnath Singh.
    Note: The BJP veteran, who was appointed President in October 2004 for his 3rd inning, stood by his comments while submitting his resignation letter. Advani wrote in his resignation letter that "I have not said or done anything in Pakistan which I need to retract or review".
  3. It was the third time when Advani resigned from all BJP posts, on June 4, 2013 following the elevation of Narendra Modi, on the occasion of BJP’s National Executive Meet in Goa, to the status of the Chairman of BJP's Election Campaign Committee for 2014 elections.  
Advani’s resignation was not a surprise to the people, as his dissatisfaction was obviously visible for the last many months, when BJP party organization was successively elevating Narendra Modi in Indian politics. Modi’s appointment to the coveted post of the Chairman of BJP's Election Campaign Committee for 2014 elections brought the final turmoil in the national politics of India. Nevertheless, people never expected a resignation from the BJP founder at a crucial time when the party was preparing for the historical election of 2014.  

The first negative reaction of Advani’s resignation was a horrifying scare of more resignations by other BJP leaders. BJP supporters were in fact waiting in shock for suspected resignations of other senior politicians from Advani group.  But, not a single BJP leader came forward to resign in support of Advani. On the other hand people at many places, rejoiced and celebrated the elevation of Narendra Modi and media gave extensive coverage to those celebrations.

Secondly, Advani’s resignation had sparked off the fuse of explosives blazing within the politicians and parties who opposed Narendra Modi from day one. These were a couple of NDA allies who watched with fear and envy, the dedicated projection of Narendra Modi as the future PM of India. Immediately after the Advani resignation episode, the main NDA ally Nitish Kumar led JDU, came forward to express their intentions of withdrawing as ally from NDA. JDU in fact, won the election in Bihar, with the support of BJP and formed government in alliance with BJP.  Nevertheless, now playing the pro-minority card, JDU is now dreaming of survival with support of new ‘secular’ allies, after the resignation episode.

In view of these fallouts, it is felt that Advani’s resignation was a mistake that has harmed the main Indian opposition party BJP. It is yet to be seen as to how much damage the resignation drama has done to the 2014 election strategy of BJP. However, this resignation episode has definitely reduced the weight of Advani’s persona. Advani, being one of the founder fathers of BJP was expected to take much more careful steps to express his displeasure about the states of affairs in BJP. A leader of his stature should have given priority to the interests of the party rather than putting them at stake.


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