Oct 10, 2011

Advani’s Last Throw of the Dice

Political Commentary

India’s eternal Prime Minister-in-waiting, BJP’s old warhorse L.K. Advani, is all set to embark on yet another Rath Yatra. His latest Yatra bandwagon aspires to ride on the popular public resentment against corruption. Taking a leaf out of veteran social activist Anna Hazare’s book, Advani will travel across the country to express his solidarity with the anti-corruption sentiment that is sweeping the nation.

Advani’s desire to reside in 7, Race Course Road is an open secret. After being snubbed by Indian voters in 2009, most pundits expected him to silently walk into the sunset. However, despite relinquishing the post of Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Advani could not really keep himself away from active politics. Hence, the proposed Yatra seems to be an effort on Advani’s part to assert his ‘leadership’ in the party, specially when BJP is struggling to find a credible leader out of a host of ‘wannabes’.

Advani’s sudden announcement of the anti-corruption Rath Yatra has surprised political experts, his own party and the ruling congress. The move is also being seen as a last-ditch effort by the octogenarian leader to stake his claim to BJP Prime Ministerial Candidature in the 2014 General Elections. Advani’s decision to embark on a Yatra has reportedly not gone down well with BJP’s Gen Next leaders. Officially though BJP has voiced full support to the veteran’s Yatra, calling him party’s ‘tallest’ leader. However, Advani, being a seasoned politician, has kept his cards close to the chest by not ruling himself out of the PM race so far.

It will also be interesting to see how Advani justifies this Yatra specially after some BJP leaders themselves are reeling under allegation of corruption of great magnitudes. From Ramesh Pokhriyal in North to Yedduirappa in South, BJP woes seem to compounding with each passing day. The motives behind the Yatra will surely be intriguing for the common man, who seems to have developed a bitter taste for anything political these days.

The Congress Party has expectedly slammed Advani’s proposed Yatra, reminding him that the nation is yet to come out of the repercussions of his first Yatra. However, at this stage of his political career, Advani is not really expected to arouse sentiments similar to Rath Yatra on Ayodhya Issue.

Whatever be the eventual outcome of his Yatra, Adavni has at least managed to hog limelight in this ongoing anti-corruption campaign. The BJP will both keep an eye on Advani’s moves and expect to reap dividends out of this latest crusade against corruption. Party feels that its own anti-corruption movement against the government has lost steam after Anna Hazare and his team took over the stage. Hence, Advani’s Yatra may revive BJP’s own anti-corruption agenda and give it a much-needed ‘face’ to take on the government. After all, Advani’s personal integrity is untainted and he still commands lot of respect among the BJP cadres.

However, despite the prospects of gaining some political mileage out of the Yatra, BJP is worried about an impending ‘leadership’ struggle within the party. Now after Narendra Modi has been given a breather by the Supreme Court in the Riots Case, the race for BJP’s Prime Ministerial Candidate has gained further momentum. So, BJP’s immediate goal is to piggyback on Advani’s Yatra politics, wrest back the anti-corruption campaign from Team Anna and put forward a united face in front of the nation.

Advani finds himself at crossroads of a long-cherished dream, political realities and fortunes of a party that he meticulously built along with others like Vajpayee. His true motive behind taking up yet another Yatra may never be known but India will be keenly watching the outcome of what seems to be the Veteran Leader’s last throw of the dice. 

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