Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advani finally hangs his boots

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

In politics there parties centred around individuals and parties centred around values. In Bharatiya Janata Party’s case the party is a mix of both. Rising from the ashes of Jan Sangh in just three decades BJP rose to become a potent opposition to the Congress. Two individuals Lal Krishna Advani and Atal Behari Vajpayee built this party to ashes to give the nation an alternative to the Congress. The grand old party of Indian politics in absence of any stiff challenge had become arrogant and patronised corruption and sycophancy for decades turning into an unaccountable political force.

Indira Gandhi’s call for National Emergency displayed this arrogance. This surely was the lowest point of Indian Democracy. Here is where the genesis of the BJP was sown in Advani and Vajpayee serving jail terms. From mere two seats in the 1984 Lok Sabha polls, to 80 odd in 1989 and emerging as the single largest party in 1996 and two more elections thereafter, the Atal-Advani duo defied many odds in Indian politics and ran a full term for the first non-Congress government at the centre.

If Vajpayee was the front face of the party having more mass appeal, Advani organizational skills were magnificent. Nobody can deny the fact that it was Advani gave life to the Sangathan. While Vajpayee ran the government, it was Advani with the support of the late Pramod Mahajan ran the party and brought the Saffron swing in the country in the earlier part of the decade winning State elections as far as states like Nagaland despite being branded a Hindutwa centric party.
Be it for his several Rath Yatras and the Ayodhya moment, Advani had also been branded as a communal leader but event the Congress can be held responsible for slaughtering the Sikhs in 1984. The notion that BJP’s rises and that of Advani’s were just based on the Hindutva is wrong. The country tired of Congress’ functioning needed an option and the BJP provided that. BJP pushed the Indian politics to the next level of competition in turn even pushing the Congress.

Advani’s greatest legacy will remain making the BJP the most Democratic Party from within unlike any other party in India barring the Left. BJP as a party doesn’t have unchallenged Presidents running the show for decades. It is not a party that worships Prince and Princess like the Congress and most regional parties around the country do. Bloodline is not adored in the BJP unlike the other parties which have turned into modern day monarchy in the disguise of being democratically elected.

Advani might not have achieved his vision of Raam Rajya (doesn’t necessarily mean a Hindu rule but a more efficient administration) but he will surely go down in the history as a leader who gave more vibrancy to the Indian politics by giving the people of this country an alternative to choose from. It is now up to leaders like Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley to lead the party in years to come and take it to the pinnacle as Atal and Advani had done.


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