The decision of the BJP to declare L.K. Advani as its prime ministerial candidate for the next general elections is at once baffling and amusing. For starters, it is still not clear when the polls will be held although the UPA government receives intimations of its mortality on an hourly basis from the Left parties. So, is Advani’s nomination intended to convey to voters across the country on how the BJP is preparing for the 2009 faceoff? Or is it a last-minute bid to create some buzz in Gujarat, which goes to the polls from today and from where the ‘Loh Purush’ is a Lok Sabha MP?
Secondly, who is this well-timed late-cut supposed to catch on the wrong foot? Is the move to name Advani intended to put other pretenders to the throne like Murali Manohar Joshi in their place so that there is no room for confusion? Or is to put an end to his tussle with party president Rajnath Singh? Or is to short-circuit the growing ambitions of the likes of Narendra Modi whose extra-large image now dwarfs even Advani’s? If the sangh parivar feels that a win in Gujarat could embolden Modi to go for the kill in Delhi, how strong is Advani’s position really even despite the nomination?
Thirdly, the role played by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the anointment of Advani beggars belief. It was only two years ago that the RSS bayed for Advani’s blood after the controversy sparked by Advani’s comments on the secularism of Mohammed Ali Jinnah in Pakistan. So is all forgiven and forgotten forever? Or is this just a temporary quickfix till the Gujarat verdict is out? Fourthly, Advani is 80 years old, he will be 82 if and when he becomes PM. In a country where more than half the population is below 25 years of age…?
Questions: Will Advani’s nomination help bring the BJP together or will it split it further apart? Will an Advani at the helm make it much more palatable for other parties to join the NDA? Will Advani as prime ministerial candidate enthuse voters, especially young voters? Will Advani realise his dream of becoming PM or is the BJP counting its chickens before they are hatched, and will Advani forever be a Prime Minister in Waiting? And, above all, does the Congress have a candidate to take on Advani?
Infographic: courtesy The Telegraph/ Calcutta