New Delhi, May 31: L.K. Advani today ruined the BJP’s bandh “success” campaign by posting a blog that criticised party chief Nitin Gadkari, without naming him, and made an oblique case for ageing politicians.
The BJP that had hoped to celebrate its Bharat bandh “success” found itself searching for a coherent response on why veteran Advani chose today, of all days, to post the blog.
Television news channels were quick to lead with Advani’s blog once and relegate the bandh to second place. “The fact that we have a sizeable contingent of MPs as against the niggardly two seats in 1984.... that the party is in power in as many as nine states today is no compensation for the lapses committed. I had said at the core group meeting (of the BJP some weeks ago) that if people are today angry with the UPA government, they are also disappointed with us. The situation, I said, calls for introspection,” Advani wrote.
Advani concurred with the media’s reading that although the UPA government was riddled with scams, the NDA was “not rising to the occasion”. “....I, as a former pressman myself, feel they are reflecting public opinion correctly,”.
Aiming potshots at Gadkari, he said the Uttar Pradesh election results and the “manner in which the party welcomed BSP ministers (read Babu Singh Kushwaha) who were removed by Mayawati on charges of corruption” undermined the party’s campaign against graft.
Gadkari was responsible for Kushwaha’s induction and for overseeing the Uttar Pradesh electioneering.
Advani cited the “handling of Jharkhand and Karnataka” as additions to the BJP’s balance sheet of debits.
The Jharkhand allusion was to Gadkari’s aborted attempt to nominate a controversial NRI businessman, Anshuman Mishra, to the Rajya Sabha. In Karnataka, Gadkari ensured that “graft-tainted” former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa — he and Advani share a mutual antipathy — remained in the BJP. Advani and his loyalist, MP Ananth Kumar, on the other hand, were prepared for a BJP-without-Yeddyurappa scenario despite the party’s internal assessment that he was the only mass leader it had in Karnataka.
To rub in the message for Gadkari, Advani lauded the performance of Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley as Opposition leaders in Parliament.
He did not mention BJP poster boy Narendra Modi or any other chief minister.
Advani had made some of these remarks in his concluding speech at the BJP’s national executive in Mumbai last week.
This evening, Advani did not go to a meeting called at Gadkari’s residence. Later in the evening, Sushma, Balbir Punj and Ananth Kumar spoke to Advani to placate him.
In the blog, Advani also posted a tailpiece on a news item about A.K. Hangal coming back to work in a TV programme at the age of 97.
Advani gave the quote of the programme’s producer who said Hangal was imbued with “unique energy”. The one-hour shot Hangal gave was “magical”, the producer said, adding that he never imagined that Hangal would pull off a one-take shot at his age.
Advani wrote: “I remember that in the sixties and seventies, there were journalists who often used to compare the Jana Sangh with film actor A.K. Hangal and say that Hangal is always admired by cinegoers. But he cannot sustain a full film by himself. He is a brilliant character actor. But he is not a starů. Jana Sangh’s position in Indian politics is similar. Its patriotism and integrity secures for it the plaudits of all; but the party will never dominate the political scene.”
Advani said he recalled “challenging such comments, and asserting that a day will certainly come when the situation will undergo a complete metamorphosis. That has now happened.”
He said: “Today BJP has become converted into such a hub of hope for all, that if it commits even a minor lapse, it does cause distress and disappointment to the people.”
Asked for a reaction on the blog, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said: “Our chief spokesperson (Ravi Shankar Prasad) briefed you about it.” Told that Prasad’s account was sanitised, Javadekar replied: “You interpret it the way you want.”