Good guys finish last
By not endorsing Modi’s choreographed elevation, Advani is expressing a view that Narendra Modi is unfit for high office. But the time for saying that and doing something about it are long past now
Mohan Guruswamy Delhi
Political obituary writers are having a field day writing about the political demise of LK Advani. And they will all attribute it to the emergence of Narendra Modi. But that would be a wrong inference. LK Advani’s political demise began on that fateful day in 1995 in Bombay when he nominated Atal Behari Vajpayee as the BJP’s standard-bearer. Advani was the rising star then, and the party was clamoring for his leadership, like they ostensibly are now for Narendra Modi. Advani’s innate decency made him defer to Vajpayee, his political senior. At that time many told him that this was possibly his only shot at the top job and that he will not get it again. For whatever it was worth I told him that good guys never finish first. I even predicted that Vajpayee’s treatment of him would be less deferential when he gets sworn in as the PM.
After Vajpayee’s first innings ended after 13 days, I told him that history has opened up another window of opportunity, but a bit slimmer this time, as Vajpayee is already an ex-PM. Advani never entertained the thought. Not that he didn’t want to become the PM, but because he played the game by its unwritten rules where seniority, friendships, fairplay and doing the right thing mattered. But when Vajpayee became PM, I saw at close quarters how the Prime Minister and his coterie went out of their way to belittle and even humiliate Advani. Few people know that the Home Minister of India did not even know when the nuclear tests were scheduled. All the political lightweights like the Foreign, Defence, and Finance Ministers were in the know. Even a flunkey minister like Pramod Mahajan was in the loop. But the BJP’s political heavyweight and the man who sat on the seat once held by Sardar Patel did not know. Once again LK Advani’s innate decency got the better of ambition.
The only time Advani fought back was when Vajpayee tried to dislodge Narendra Modi from his bloodied perch in Gujarat. The PM was right. Blood stained hands and high office do not go together. But Advani, now chaffing a bit under the gauntlet of taunts and slights from the PMO, decided to stand by Modi. And Modi remained. Advani was sowing the seeds of his eventual political demise in doing so. Narendra Modi is not from the forget and forgive school of politics.