Poll road comes to an end for BJP stalwart Advani
With the release of its first list of candidates for upcoming Lok Sabha elections, BJP drew curtains on Lal Krishna Advani's poll journey. Party president Amit Shah will contest elections from Gandhinagar, the seat which sent Advani to Lok Sabha six times. Notably, Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accompanied Advani when he filed nominations from Gandhinagar for the first time. Let's take a look at his journey.
Gandhinagar is one of the safest bets for BJP and has become synonymous to Advani. He first contested from there in 1991 and in 1996 elections made way for his mentor Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Two years later, his win scripted history. He won the seat by a margin of 2.77 lakh votes. And now Shah has the responsibility of living up to Advani's legacy.
Ambiguity over Advani's role in national politics has been persisting for some time now. The BJP stalwart is 91 years old and reports claimed he may have voluntarily decided to not contest polls. In the last five years, he rarely visited Gandhinagar. Since the seat is coveted, BJP's ground level workers wanted someone of national importance to be fielded from there. Hence, Shah was chosen.
That Advani didn't release any statement to clarify his stand on upcoming polls, doesn't look good for BJP. After PM Modi led BJP to a historic win in 2014, Advani was relegated to Margdarshak Mandal, a body meant to guide the new batch of leaders. The body never held any meetings, confirming it was nothing but a consolation prize to the stalwarts.
After BJP announced the list, Congress was quick to attack the saffron party. Congress alleged PM Modi has shown how disrespectful he is towards elders. Since Advani's name has been dropped from contenders' list, it has also become easier for BJP to bench another stalwart Murli Manohar Joshi. It should be noted that Advani is no Joshi, as he single-handedly revived BJP.
In the 1984 elections, BJP won just 2 Lok Sabha seats and the party understood the liberal Hindutva stand isn't working. While Vajpayee remained the statesman, Advani did the heavy lifting. He fanned the Ram Janmbhoomi movement, participated in numerous yatras, and made BJP relevant in national politics. Out of all the yatras, it was Advani's Ram Rath yatra which catapulted BJP to center-stage.
However, a lot has changed since 2012. In the last five years, Advani's attendance in Lok Sabha was 92.21%, yet he rarely uttered a word. Sitting on the first benches of the House, Advani saw every major incident including uproar over Rafale, Union Minister Smriti Irani's impassioned speech as HRD head, and no-confidence motion. But he spoke only for three minutes in total.
Advani's age explains why the firebrand leader took a backseat in the last couple of years. Several first-time voters of Gandhinagar weren't even born when Advani filed his nomination from the constituency decades ago. While Advani scripted BJP's rise, his dream of becoming the PM would forever remain unfulfilled. This shows how even the tallest politicians get defeated in peculiar ways.