The BJP, main Opposition party, is once again reeling under turbulence, while the party banks on the RSS for strategic decision and gets direction from them. Right now the BJP has hit the limelight because of Advani’s forthcoming rath yatra. Deputy Prime Minister during the NDA regime and the Opposition leader of the Lok Sabha in past, Advani is still very influensive leader. He took out rath yatra six times so far. His 7th rath yatra would begin from Sitab Diyara, a birth place of Jai Prakash Narayan. Common people hail him as a chief leader of the BJP and he commands respect in the party as a top leader, but for the last few days the party is mounting pressure on him to give way to the young faces. However, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Narendra Modi and party president Nitin Gadkari have come forward as young faces, but Advani is still standing with his high stature. He looks participating in every important programme—be it a rally, or delegation, or political function. There is no match of Advani’s political experiences, however he could not wield the clout in the party as Atal Bihari Vajpayee did. Advani faced a lot of protests from inside the party when he eulogized Jinnah during his visit to Pakistan. Following the directions of some strategists, he did not only offer chadar at mausoleum of Jinnah, but also hailed him as a secular. This is of course an old chapter, but still following.

Although general election is far away, the BJP is desperate to bring in such a face who can pull youths of the country as well as lead the party. As LK Advani is going to turn 84, so many BJP leaders assume that new face could not be promoted under the shadow of Advani. Perhaps this be a reason, there is protest inside the party when anyone takes initiative in this regard. Recently, when he announced his rath yatra campaign, a dissenting voice cropped up. The RSS also called up him. After talking with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Advani cleared his stand stating that his rath yatra does mean for claiming the post of Prime Minister, but most of the people in the party feel that the purpose of the rath yatra is to consolidate the claim for the post of the Prime Minister. It is assumed that Narendra Modi gave reply to Advani’s claim for the post of the Prime Minister by taking out another rath yatra for marking Sadhabhawna fast.

Whatever may be the reality, but with the absence of Modi in the BJP executive meeting in Delhi after the Sadhabhawna fast, the message has gone that he is unhappy with the Advani’s move. Speculation is rife that Advani decided to kick-start his rath yatra from Sitab Diyara so that Narendra Modi could stay away. The rath yatra of Advani will culminate in Delhi, but it is not decided if Modi comes Delhi on this occasion. But, when Advani’s rath yatra will cross Gujarat, Modi may participate on the ground of discipline, but it hardly pacifies the situation triggered by the face-off between Advani and Modi.

As Advani has finished his preparation for the rath yatra, so there is no point of his going back. He possibly believes he will get comprehensive supports from this rath yatra for consolidating position for the post of the Prime Minister. The way he did not seek advice from the party regarding the yatra, indicates he is ambitious for the post of the Prime Minister and right now he is not willing to stay away from the politics. Considering his agility and dexterity, the party is not in position to adivise him to resign from active politics. But it is decided that the BJP is in catch-22 situation and it may cost the party.

Since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, the Opposition party wants mid-term poll by exploring the weak points of the government, following with an election here. If the mid-term polls take place, the internal fight of the BJP might be a big hurdle. The negative ambience caused by the war of words inside the party may eclipse the party’s good result in election. For getting success in today’s politics, there is a need of conducive atmosphere. The adverse situation and lack of suitable leadership could mar even the good electoral strategy. The BJP must learn that its internal fight can weaken it. Presently, coalition politics will rule the roost and the BJP could not irk its allied parties by projecting its radical image. Narendra Modi is billed to be such a hard core leader. When Modi has projected himself for the post of the Prime Minister, Nitish Kumar also joined the same bandwagon. The allied parties of the NDA can hail Nitish as a future Prime Minister of the country, but for the time being Advani has put the BJP in limbo.    

Undoubtedly, Advani is not only high-up of the BJP rather he is top leader of the Opposition, but he has not got the attention of mass that the Gandhi family is holding.  It is fine that the BJP leaders do not speak their mind regarding Advani owing to discipline, but if the party has to boost its strategy, it will have to take a concrete step. The BJP will have to decide if the party throws its weight behind Advani or it should make him to take backseat. This apart, the party does have no alternative. The BJP will have to select either path soon for its betterment.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on October 2, 2011 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)