Many, not necessarily supporters of Lal Krishna Advani or the BJP, now feel that the octogenarian leader should be made Prime Minister on compassionate grounds, may be for a year or even a few months. That is, of course, if the BJP-led alliance comes to power in the next elections. The RSS worker, who travelled all the way from Sind in Pakistan to Indore in a tender age to grow into a top Jana Sangh/BJP leader, has waited too, pathetically too, long to fulfil this ambition and has tried all possible devices but was always betrayed either by his own party men or the alliance partners and most often by the voters.
Now as he was seeing his life’s ambition nearing fulfilment, suddenly Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has emerged to spoil his game. In spite of his corporate money-helped control over the media, Modi, though, may not find smooth his acceptance by the party as a whole. He has a formidable challenger in Sushma Swaraj, leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. The Gulfnews had reported some time back that Swaraj “is already being seen within the party as someone who can become Prime Minister”. That was, of course, before Modi’s media blitzkrieg.
During its years in power at the Centre, the BJP, or at least a large section of its leadership, had seen the futility of remaining rigid on certain sensitive issues. Advani, in particular, had realised at a particular stage that he would have to shed his hard Hindutva protagonist image if he wanted to fulfil his long-cherished ambition of becoming Prime Minister of the country. He went to pay his obeisance at the grave of the founder of Pakistan. This was rather a clumsy way of projecting himself as a liberal politician and seemed to have done him more harm, politically, than good. But ambition blinds even a wise man.
The Godhra massacre may continue to haunt Modi as he tries to step out of Gujarat on a wider canvas. In contrast, say some Sushma Swaraj loyalists, the name of Swaraj has never been tainted by fanaticism; though she sometimes loses control on her tongue (that happens when the sugar level goes up in her blood stream as she is an acute diabetic). During the brief period of her chief ministership of Delhi, she had not allowed fanaticism to enter into her, otherwise lack-lustre, working, they claim.
Swaraj scores over Modi in respect of experience also. She started her political career as a Janata Party member of the Haryana Assembly and had become the youngest member of Devi Lal’s cabinet with the portfolio of Labour and Employment. She opted for the BJP when the party was formed in 1980 following the split in the Janata Party. She became in the late eighties the minister of education, food and civil supplies in the Lok Dal-BJP government of Haryana led by Devi Lal.
She had been elected to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and had held portfolios of Information and Broadcasting and Telecommunications in the Vajpayee government at the Centre. Her name was in the reckoning for the post of national president of the BJP when Advani resigned in 2005; ultimately Rajnath Singh was elected.
The Advani group is said to be tacitly supporting Sushma Swaraj as the next Prime Minister in the event of the BJP-led alliance coming to power. Being a woman and a mother, Sushma Swaraj is known for being a kind-hearted woman and will not hesitate to relinquish the chair of Prime Minister for Advani for a few months purely on compassionate grounds and concentrate on her gold and diamond collection. Modi is much too hard-hearted to feel compassion for old age.