In defense of Advani
Ironical as it might sound, Advani’s reason for quitting his various party posts was because ”most leaders of ours are now concerned just with their personal agendas.’’ It is easy to argue that the veteran BJP leader has his own life-long personal agenda of becoming the PM and yet blames everyone else in the party, particularly Mr. Modi of having his own personal agenda. Despite this irony, in reality, Mr. Advani is expressing a very valid concern that many in the BJP seem to concur with in private but do not have the stature or simply the “guts” to bring up in public.
For the first time in its history, the BJP has a leader in Mr. Modi who, through clever, sustained propaganda and self-promotional events, has positioned himself as a de-facto savior of the party. To his credit, he has repeatedly won elections in Gujarat. He also goes around talking of an agenda of development and progress, showcasing his successful administration in Gujarat. Over time, he has slowly developed a cult following of sorts, particularly in his home state. Party and ideology has given way to Modi masks. It’s a Modi show all the way. Today, there is one Modi and many Modi masks. Number twos or number threes in the hierarchy are non-existent as in Gujarat. Have a lot of dough and want to start a project in Gujarat? No problem. Modi will personally lay out the red carpet, welcome you with open arms, sanction the land, and take care of associated irritants, crush environmentalists, or anyone else who stands in the way; and before you know it, you are in business, and of course, singing his praise. While this approach might seem attractive to young, restless, and ambitious Indians, the fact remains that this approach smacks of dictatorship. No one has a say except Modi. There is no debate, no consensus, little discussion, and virtually no inclusive process in decision-making. The fundamental tenets of democracy are thrown out of the window, in exchange for rapid pace of development in the name of progress.