The die is cast and the Lok Sabha elections are less than a week away. Therefore, it is unlikely that the observations made on Thursday by BJP’s stalwart in retirement Lal Krishna Advani, whose past has been nothing if not spectacular since it is he who almost single-handedly turned a moribund political platform into a mass party, can have any impact on the voting.
Those who are on the BJP ticket will have their sights on winning. They wouldn’t probably give the precepts of their former party great a second look — at least not now. But should the saffron party’s poll performance be below par and a change of leadership be warranted in order to gather allies to form the government, Mr Advani’s words may turn out to have considerable utility value for those in the party who have been politically inconvenienced by its present overlords.
In timing his occasional blog with the 39th anniversary of the BJP's founding, which falls on April 6, Mr Advani made two telling observations — both of which underpin the basic values of democracy. He said the party of which he was a founder did not treat those it disagreed with as “enemies” or as “anti-national”, but as mere adversaries.
Those who have eyes to see will know that this remark — which bears the look of a foundational principle — cannot but be a comment on the five years of BJP rule led by Narendra Modi and the man who fixes the organisation for him, incumbent BJP president Amit Shah. Mr Advani's words are more searing than any that a political opponent might have made, and this is because factually it absolutely in concord with history.
The evolution of a political organism presents complex histories, and the former Jan Sangh and BJP that Atal Behari Vajpayee and Mr Advani founded in 1980 was at core a communal outfit. It was barely a party after being crushed in the 1984 Lok Sabha polls, emerging with only two Lok Sabha seats, and was crucially dependent on the RSS for practically everything. And yet, treating other parties as “enemies” or as “anti-national” elements appeared alien to their lexicon.
Perhaps the late Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani, despite their thorough RSS grooming, had a better appreciation of the social and mental makeup of India, its diversities, and its plurality — the attributes Mr Advani pointedly noted, and which would make those now in power very uncomfortable.
Mr Advani also refers to the institutions of democracy without going into detail. This should also give our present rulers pause. The issue has now been raised from within the party. Mr Advani may be unhappy that he has been dropped from the BJP's list of candidates without even being asked, but he has raised points of substance....