Has senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani ruled out being PM candidate or he is just being evasive?
Advani went to Nagpur, the headquarters of the RSS, for an audience with his party’s parental head, Mohan Bhagwat on September 21.
Later, he had audience with BJP chief Nitin Gadkari who was recuperating from a surgery to lose weight.
Advani is said to have virtually appealed to them not to derail his yatra. Gadkari assured full support after Bhagwat gave a green signal from the RSS.
Widely seen as projecting himself again as a prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 elections by his yet another yatra, Advani found his yatra getting lukewaram response from the BJP. So he thought he must go to Nagpur to sort out matters.
Significantly, as predicted by the media, Advani said after his meetings that he is “happy” remaining in the party and he wasn’t in any race.
Advani’s remark led to other BJP leaders wondering whether he has actually ruled himself out as a candidate or just said so because the RSS was putting pressure on him.
“Advani could be like Sourav Ganguly, who does not tire himself of indicating he’s had enough but is eager to be bought by any team when the IPL auction of players takes place,” said a senior BJP leader who is also among the GenNext that is hopeful of a chance in the 2014 polls.
Here’s what Advani said: “From the RSS, to the Jan Sangh and to the BJP, I am happier to be a part of the party…I would only say that I first became a Swayamsewak (of the RSS), then a member of the Jan Sangh and then the BJP. I feel that what I have got from these organisations, from my fellow workers and what the country has given me is much more than the prime minister’s post.”
Advani was asked if he expects to be his party’s prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
There is no doubt that Advani was under pressure from the RSS to give some clarification on what message he wanted to convey after announcing a nationwide tour against corruption.
The BJP was caught off guard when Advani announced his plan on September 8 after daring the UPA government to arrest him on the cash-for-vote scam. Even as Advani plans to start his yatra on October 11, from Sitabdiara, the birthplace of anti-Congress icon, Jayap-rakash Narayan, in Bihar’s Saran district, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, a senior JD-U leader, is himself starting a “seva yatra” in his state. He has not publicly committed support for Advani’s yatra.
Advani’s problem is not just Nitish Kumar. Younger party leaders like Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley are upset that his yatra will take focus off the UPA. But Advani told Bhagwat that he will use the yatra only to attack the UPA’s “corruption” record in governance.