LK Advani's resignation from all party posts and the withdrawal of the same a day later have been variously interpreted in political circles. Some have called it an abject surrender to Modi and the RSS. Is there more to read between the lines? CNN-IBN's deputy editor Sagarika Ghose joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.
Q. Dear Sagarika, do you think that Mr Advani has withdrawn his resignation due to RSS pressure or due to the fact that he may not get enough support for his views? On the whole do you think that this resignation situation has given negative impact on BJP image? Asked by: Raaj
A. The RSS may have brokered the immediate truce, but Advani is too seasoned a politician not to have forseen the impact of his actions. I think he was genuinely taken aback by what happened in Goa. Don't think he as expecting the party to elevate Modi and pay no heed to his reservations or call for a parallel election committee. Now the signal has gone out loud and clear--not only is there no unanimity over Modi in the NDA, there is no unanimity in the BJP either.
Is Advani's withdrawal of his resignation from party posts a mark of his surrender to Modi?
Q. Ma'am, BJP is so curious to get power in the centre that they completely ignored someone of advani ji's stature? Could they have handled the situation differently? Asked by: Pallavi Sakhare
A. Advani is the creator of the BJP, he's the soul of the BJP. 80 plus or not some of the language used about him by Modi's supporters is terribly rude and disrespectful. In my opinion, Advani has learnt, learnt the hard way, the electoral realities of India--that you can't polarise and win. Election victories happen when there is an inclusive figure at the top, such as a Vajpayee. After Advani's "revolt" the allies too are jittery--already the JDU is preparing to quit the NDA. Maybe this would not have happened if the BJP had heeded Advani and not been quite so hasty in elevating Modi..
Q. Hi, I believe this is not a surrender..its the only hope of BJP gaining next election. We hope he was made aware of the benefits to BJP on MODI" fication. Asked by: Paresh
A. You know, I have my doubts about Modi-fication. yes Modi is popular, he has undoubtedly struck a chord, he is a governance man, a growth-rented leader--all of that. But the chemistry of Modi is at odds with the cold reality of election arithmetic. Where will the BJP get seats from? It is non-existent in the south and in the east..it can hope for seats only from Gujarat, Maha, C-garh (too small) MP and R-than. Will these states bring the BJP to the 180+ it thinks Modi will bring it? Not so sure...
Q. With Modi being made campaign committee chariman, do you think BJP will make big in 2014? or is it pro for congress? Asked by: Zaki
A. IMHO, 2014 will see a federal front led by chief ministers not aligned to either Cong or BJP..likely that the INC will support this arrangement from outside. How long is such a govt likely to last? 2 years maybe..This is my view--I could be wrong!
Q. Ma'am, What do you think is the deal promised to pacify Advani? Hard to imagine he would just budge just because BJP promised to 'listen and take care' of his views? Asked by: Kartheek
A. Don't think Advani ever intended to leave the BJP. How can he leave? BJP is his creation. Think he wanted to convey his unease, say "main bhi hoon" and maybe demonstrate his own ambition and power with the allies. He has managed to do that. Every ally from Shiv Sena to JDU has said they can't imagine the NDA without Advani.
Q. If people elect inclusive leader why were Vajpayee and Advani were defeated in 2004 and 2009? Asked by: Ramesh Kumar Gupta
A. Because there was a more popular leader competing against them, namely Manmohan Singh. We must never under-estimate MMS popularity, however much it may have got dissipated now..Also the Shining India campaign didn't work, wonder if the Shining Modi campaign will deliver..
Q. LKA would have achieved more if he had been the one to propose Modi's name to the committee chairman? Since Modi is already a great strategist, it would have helped the BJP in getting to a wider audience to hear their plans and policies. By shooting in the foot, LKA has diminished his stature. Your thoughts. Asked by: EMatts
A. Advani is the original lauh purush--iron man of the BJP. He's been doing politics before some of our parents were even born! yes Advani may have become petulant and somewhat upset at being left out of the BJP's decision making, but I think there's a method in his madness..for the moment Advani has strongly signalled, both to the RSS and to the allies how much he opposes Modi. if the JDU threatens to leave, will the BJP be tempted to bring Advani back to the forefront? lets wait and see what happens..
Q. Critics and admirers of Mr Modi miss one point. India has never supported foul mouthed leaders beyond a point. Will it be different this time? Asked by: Kamal Agg
A. You know thats very good point. Indian voters don't much care for chest thumping politicians who present themselves as super heroes. Quiet and unassuming types win out in the end..which is why perhaps Advani had thrown his weight behind a Shivraj Singh Chauhan..inclusiveness plurality win in India. Mayawati won her biggest victory when she went from bahujan samaj to sarvajan samaj in 2007, Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya won big when he went from Leftist ideology to Buddha-economics in 2006..when leaders become inclusive, electorates reward them..
Q. Will the BJP be going to win general elections with all this factionalism and fights and what chance they will have of making comeback after sending conflicting messages to people? Asked by: Hitesh
A. This election was a big chance for the BJP. people are fed up with the Congress and after 10 years of UPA, think there is an overwhelming mood for change. But by projecting Modi as the leader, I believe the BJP has taken a risk, because Modi can mobilise supporters within the BJP but outside he will polarise..if the BJP had presented a less threatening figure, a less overpowering figure--then maybe the BJP's chances of winning would have been far greater. Modi can only be PM if the BJP wins 200+seats, if less you never know, could see a Rajnath Singh stepping forward..
Q. Looking at the present scenario who is more important for BJP? Asked by: Madhav Banerjee
A. Good question. Even as I write this, it is Advani who is trying to broker peace with Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar, not Modi. Can you imagine Nitish Kumar negotiating seat sharing agreements with Modi? Someone not even allowed to campaign in Bihar? Advani knows how important he is to the BJP and I think he staged his resignation drama to underline it..
Q. Ref answer 6 in 2004 Manmohan Singh was not in picture-anyway you admit that other factors like popularity of leader and incumbency factor may swamp the factor of leader being inclusive. Asked by: Ramesh Kumar Gupta
A. 2004 was a defeat for Shining India slogan of BJP. It is to the credit of Sonia that she created a support base for the UPA when no one was willing to give the Congress chance. Shining India showed the pitfalls of a glitzy campaign which the aam admi did not relate to..
Q. Do you think that BJP will eventually split after 2014 elections? Asked by: Dhruv
A. Possible, if Modi camp and Advani camp remain opposed to each other then there may be a split with the two choosing to go their separate ways. Modi is a hard option for other politicians to accept..as I said invincibility is a weakness in Indian politics, if you succeed too much and win too much, you put people off. Defeat humanises you, washes away your sins. Advani has become a more "moderate" politician after his defeat of 2009..in an interesting reversal of roles, the iron man hindutva icon Advani is now seen as the moderate senior citizen by the NDA allies at least. Also think the RSS attempts to control the BJP are reaching breaking point..sooner or later either the RSS has to distance itself from the BJP if the latter is to function as a "normal" political party.
Q. In how many big states can Narendra Modi possibly have an impact on? Asked by: Ram
A. Good question. During the Karnataka polls Modi had no impact. For the last decade Modi has made "Gujarati" pride his calling card, has even refused to part with lions and send them to another state--can so proud a regionalist, suddenly become an all india figure? There are questions about Modi's popularity in Bihar, down south or in Bengal..this is the age of the regional satrap. There is an argument though that all of urban India will vote for Modi, he will sweep the elections and take the BJP to 180+ seats..the corporates are certainly backing Modi to the hilt but it remains to be seen if Modi has an all India appeal.
Q. Very likely that both BJP and Cong will go to polls without a PM candidate. Modi may be an implicit candidate from BJP but he may be able to stake claim to top job only if BJP manages to reach close to 200 seats with him as campaign chief. Your thoughts! Asked by: S Chaturvedi
A. You know one of the big failures of recent times has been the resounding failure of Rahul Gandhi. Uncommunicative, timid, boyish, he has simply failed to lead the congress from the front, preferring to stay in the shadows. If Rahul had come out there, led from the front, been a young captain of the Congress army, the game would have been wide open and we would have had a genuine electoral contest..right now Modi has no rival in the Congress camp, and Modi has no united support from the BJP. So however much the BJP may hope for a "presidential" contest between personalities, there is not going to be any such contest..yes Modi can only be PM if the BJP crosses 200.
Q. Why can't it be seen as a dawn of new leadership and hence new breath in BJP. It is a different matter whether this new breath would prove to be the second wind for BJP. Asked by: Sachin
A. BJP does need a new leadership and there is no doubt that Modi has struck a huge chord with the public. He is open, he communicates and he is undoubtedly popular.But one of the qualities of a leader is being able to carry people with you and being able to build a team..so far Modi's style of politics is a One Man Show model and not a team model. Such a person is unlikely to get the support of his peers. Its one thing to keep abusing "sickularists" and "libtards" on the social media, its quite another to actually win friends among fellow politicians--abusing, name calling and bullying won't do the trick!
Q. Why Advaniji is not act like Atalji? Retire after certain age. why he give up from his resignation? Asked by: ankit
A. Advani should have retired.A lot of the problems of the BJP stem from the fact that he refuses to leave the scene. Think he is refusing to go because he feels his life's work is being jeopardised and the party is going in the wrong direction. But there comes a time when every parent or grandparent must let their offspring make their own mistakes and learn from them. Advani has not only not retired but in fact he made a comeback to active politics when he became chairman of the NDA..
Q. This not new in democratic system where there is always conflicts & tussle within the party to be No. 1, as there is no unanimous undisputed leader present due to dynasty like Congress? But it seems new to India due to Congress ruling most of the time since 1947? Asked by: Dr. Riyaz Malik
A. Sure a lot of the wranglings in the BJP is democracy-in-action.the BJP can justly claim that it is not a dynastic party but a party where leadership has to be won through a contest. Am sure Advani will continue to oppose Modi and continue to oppose the Modi cult in the BJP. But the manner in which Modi's supporters actually protested and demonstrated in front of Advani's home was rather unseemly and even a little shocking. Advani is a father figure--he created and encouraged Sushma, Arun jaitley and even Modi..
Q. Do you think Rahul Gandhi can match Modi in terms of track record, charisma etc? Asked by: RG
A. To me Rahul Gandhi is the disappointment of the decade. Am sure even Sonia agrees. Maybe he could change, maybe he could suddenly become a fire-and-brimstone political animal, but for the moment it looks as if Rahul is a highly reluctant politician who never speaks, is hardly seen in public and is deeply uncomfortable with the hurly burly of politics. Maybe he just wants to say goodbye to it all and go back to the world of software. Mamata Banerjee once told me: ei cheletar kono bhabishat nahi, meaning this boy has no future. For the sake of the Congress I hope she's wrong, but I sometimes fear she may be right!