India, the world’s largest secular democracy is going to face the general elections for Lok Sabha (House of the People) between the coming April 16 & May 13. In India, since the last two decades the rule of any one national political party is not in vogue so the politics of the alliance parties is in practice everywhere. A party that wins 272 of the 543 seats of the Lok Sabha can only constitute the government. But as because of the alliance politics, the leaders such as I.K. Gujral, Chandrashekhar, H.D. Devegowda & V.P. Singh became Prime Minister; so many leaders of the country have begun to dream of being the Prime Minister. The list of the leaders who have a strong desire to be the Prime Minister is long but there are some who long for it very deeply. They are Sharad Pawar, Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, Mulayam Singh Yadav etc. Each of these leaders has got less than sixty parliamentarians with them. But there is no harm in having a wishful thinking due to alliance politics regime in the country.
The above many names are there who are ambitious of sitting in the chair of the Prime Minister & these names come out in the election season but a name that has a strong claim for the office of the Prime Minister senior politician & that is the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Lal Krishna Advani. Certainly, among all other claimants for the post of Prime Minister, Advani is not only the most senior & aged but he has with him a long list of the parliamentarians from the BJP also. Advani has the experience of holding the offices as the Information & Broadcasting Minister of India, Home Minister of India & even the Deputy Prime Minister of India. He is seen as the symbol of the Hindutva politics. His supporters believe him as an impressive personality, having long political experience & a leader who is able to take ‘hard decisions in hard times’. Advani’s supporters in the BJP agree that only an experienced person like Advani can give right type of leadership to the country at this time. Having these hopers, the BJP, for the first time in Indian politics declared him as the ‘Prime Minister in Waiting’. After this declaration, the questions about his candidature have also started to rise. The former Vice President of India & his party colleague Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, after meeting Advani last days, has tried to sink the differences. But the supporters of Shekhawat have got the last message which is not a good omen for the claim of Advani. On the other side, Kalyan Singh has also left the BJP that shows that the party is loosing its stand in Uttar Pradesh, the largest State in India.
The fresh bad omen has appeared in Orissa, where the ruling party Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has broken its one decade old nexus with the BJP. It is being told that this situation between the BJP & the BJD has arisen because of division of seats between them. But reality is somewhat else. The BJP along with some fundamentalist Hindutva organizations has been blamed of anti-Christian violence that erupted in Orissa last year. So it seems that the peace loving people of Orissa are not in favour of coalition between the BJD & the BJP. It is obvious that the signs for Advani are not good in Orissa even.
As far as the claim of Advani for Prime Ministership is concerned, his supporters are having complete faith in him but if we talk of political analysts, the opinion is not on the arguments of the opposition or speeches of the leaders. For example, the BJP finds him able enough for the office of the Prime Minister whereas Advaniji is showing his repentance over the last mistakes. The BJP that has bursted the cracker of the ‘Prime Minister in Waiting’ had bursted ‘India Shining’ during last Lok Sabha elections in 2004. That time too the political analysts were discarding such slogans as India Shining, but the party was in arrogant mood & didn’t hear. Now after five years, Advaniji himself accepts that slogan like India Shining was a mistake at that time. This acceptance of Advaniji raises question that in the presence of an experienced leader like Advaniji, why the Indian voters were misguided by such a slogan.
One very important point to be noticed is that Advani seems to be throwing light on the real theory of coalition government because of his farsighted political approach. Last days, Advaniji said that there is no place for pre notions in the coalition government. His hint was, once again, over the controversial issues such as Ayodhya, Article 370 & Common Civil Code. He meant to say that if there is a coalition government, the BJP will not take these controversial issues as election propaganda. But opposite to it, the BJP president Rajnath Singh seems to be giving air to these issues. It can be said that regarding these issues, the BJP is in a fix. It is in a position neither to execute nor to leave these issues. Now between the two party leaders who should be trusted?
The supporters of the ‘Prime Minister in Waiting’ consider Advaniji as an ‘iron man’ who takes hard decisions in troublesome times. Some critique doubt it. The countrymen are unable to forget the incident when at the time of Kandahar Airplane hijack, how four terrible terrorists were being released & the then Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh took them to Kandahar and handed over to Talibans. It was a historical event & Advaniji himself was the Home Minister of India at that time. The criticism of the analysts is right when it is said that the government bowed its knees before the terrorists when Advaniji was Home Minister. There can’t be a guarantee that such things would not happen again during his leadership. Whereas the former Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh has said in an unfortunate statement that if the situation like the previous one arises in future, the decisions can be repeated. So during such circumstances, how can the countrymen believe that leadership of Advaniji is strong, able & impressive?
Whereas Advani is campaigning through newspapers & websites to tell the world that he is the ‘would be Prime Minister of India’, at the same time, he in his book, “My Country My Life”, has tried to remove the doubts about him. It is a separate thing that controversies have arisen just after the publication of the book. The former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah has expressed his contradiction & disagreement with some of the published parts in this book.
Anyhow, 82 years old Advani is challenging to cross the numbers of majority with the help of coalition, at the same time, accusations about demolition of Babri Mosque present his communalist image. Now the question is that after the communal politics of six decades & after giving clean chit to the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi for the massacre of minorities in Gujrat, his image will change if he praises the founder of Pakistan, M.A. Jinnah? It doesn’t seem so. On the other side, the devotees of Lord Ram also feel being cheated again & again when steps towards construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya are forwarded & withdrawn time & again. Obviously there will be difficulty in the fulfilment of desire of Advaniji to become the Prime Minister of India. The political background is calling again & again ‘Storms are Strong enough’.
By Tanveer Jafri
The author is a columnist based in India, writes in the field of communal harmony, world peace, national & international politics etc. Jafri is also a member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy (state govt. bodies in India). He can be reached at: email@example.com