WWE of Indian Politics: Is Advani-Modi fight a stage-managed show?

By Soroor Ahmed, TwoCircles.net,

Serious differences have cropped up within the Bharatiya Janata Party as there are more than one claimants for the post of prime minister. Initially the Sangh Parivar wanted to project a younger face as former deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani was considered too old for the job but gradually it appears to be reconciling to the reality.

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The BJP now feels that the Narendra Modi card had failed outside Gujarat both in 2004 and 2009. In whichever state he went to campaign the party performed poorly. In 2004 when there was so much feel good factor involved and initially Congress was nowhere in contest the NDA lost just because of the Gujarat factor.

The party also realized how the leaders of opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively are not in position to fill the vacuum created by the retirement of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Thus a large section of the Sangh Parivar and BJP had to once again fall back upon octogenarian Advani.

Since the Sangh Parivar has, over the years, mastered the art of managing several political WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) shows (earlier known as WWF) there is no dearth of observers who believe that all this news of infighting is a well-calculated exercise to refurbish the image of Advani.

Many analysts strongly believe that there is no such serious infighting within. Actually the BJP, with the help of a section of media, is deliberately trying to paint Modi as hardliner just because in the process the leadership wants to project Advani as a soft-liner. As Advani––who led the movement against Babri Masjid, and was very much present at the time of its demolition on December 6, 1992––has always been rated as a hardliner in comparison to Vajpayee as softliner, the need of the hour is to project him as soft-liner and thus make him acceptable to other non-Congress political alternatives in different states.

It needs to be mentioned that after 2004 most of 20 odd parties, which joined hands with the BJP, deserted the NDA blaming the Gujarat riots of 2002 as the cause of their defeat in respective states. Except the oldest allies, the Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena and Akali Dal, all the other parties jumped off the NDA bandwagon. Some, like Trinamool Congress even joined hands with the Congress and is now comfortably in power in West Bengal.

So if Lal Krishna Advani is to be seriously projected as the prime ministerial candidate Modi should be shown as the hardliner by none else but the party itself. While Modi’s hardline approach may help the BJP in Gujarat the rejection of his candidature for the post of PM may improve the prospect of the party elsewhere in the country. This appears to be the strategy of the party. Therefore, the political WWE had to be enacted. It needs to be reminded that many viewers strongly believe that WWE fights are real. In the same way some voters in India may think that the infighting within the BJP is real.

Since the Janata Dal (United), then known as Samata Party, was the first outfit to provide secular legitimacy to the BJP after Babri Masjid demolition, it is bound to play another important role in post-2002 Gujarat riots years to bring the BJP into the mainstream politics. Till 1996 Lok Sabha election apart from Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and Samata Party all the parties used to consider the BJP as untouchable. However, after the collapse of 13-day BJP government then, the Samata Party leaders George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar played a very important role in bringing all the secular regional satraps opposed to the Congress to the BJP fold. And by 1998 secular regional parties, be it TDP, AIADMK, DMK, National Conference, INLD and later Trinamool Congress, LJP etc all joined the NDA.

But since Gujarat riots of 2002 had turned all these parties away it was essential to project Modi as a villain of peace and once again seek the help of Nitish and this time Sharad Yadav.

It was because of the great service rendered by Samata Party in 1990s that the BJP agreed to give important portfolios to its leader and even made George Fernandes the NDA convenor. Now that he is seriously ill the BJP has replaced him with Sharad Yadav as the convenor.

So if Nitish Kumar flagged off the Jan Chetna Yatra on October 11 there is no scope for any big surprise. After all in November 1995 it was Nitish Kumar who went out of way to attend the BJP National Executive in Mumbai. This was the first gesture towards friendship with the BJP.

But the greatest concern for the BJP is its serious failure in grooming next generation leader for the post of Prime Minister. As the Lok Sabha election is almost three years from now Advani would be 87 by then––may not be fully fit for the post. Besides, there is no sign of allies like Trinamool Congress, Biju Janata Dal, TDP, National Conference etc coming back to the NDA fold. Besides, in Uttar Pradesh, where the party used to get 50-odd seats in Lok Sabha elections at its peak, the BJP is in a horrible state.

In such a situation will this Yatra work? May be by 2014 citizens will become aware about the political WWE of the BJP.