LK Advani, senior BJP leader and veteran of many political battles, is an angry man. And his anger is directed at the man at the helm of affairs in the BJP — Nitin Gadkari.
There was media speculation when Advani left the Mumbai national executive before the public rally that he was upset with the haste with which Gadkari was gifted a second three-year-term by the RSS leadership.
Now, in a blog published on the day of the Bharat bandh, when the party is desperate to put up a united front, Advani has said that the mood in the party is far from "upbeat". He felt the party top brass had mishandled several political issues. He has even doubted if the party is in a position to come up with a credible alternative to the UPA.
Advani's low-profile presence at the Mumbai meet had given a fair indication that all is not well in the top rung of the BJP hierarchy but this blog makes it apparent that the gulf between some of the leaders has reached an unbridgeable situation.
Advani has said, "When these days media-persons attack the UPA government for its string of scams, but at the same time regret that the BJP-led NDA is not rising to the occasion, I, as a former pressman myself, feel they are reflecting public opinion correctly."
Not only has Advani agreed with media scepticism over the party's ability but he has also talked about the depressing times for the party in 1984 when the BJP was able to capture only two seats in the election following Indira Gandhi's assassination.
He has pointed out that the Krishan Lal Sharma Committee that had analysed the party’s poor performance in 1984 and had concluded “that there was no demoralisation because of the electoral setback”.
In a scathing paragraph, Advani has said, "The mood within the party these days is not upbeat. The results in Uttar Pradesh, the
manner in which the party has welcomed BSP ministers who were removed by Mayawatiji on charges of corruption, the party's handling of Jharkhand and Karnataka — all these events have undermined the party's campaign against corruption."
It is obvious that Advani is unforgiving towards RSS-appointee Nitin Gadkari for his many “failings". It was only after Gadkari’s nod that Mayawati-reject BS Kushwaha was allowed into the party.
It was only at the behest of Gadkari that a controversial figure like Anshuman Mishra almost earned his right to contest as a BJP nominee in the Rajya Sabha polls from Jharkhand. There is a section within the party, Gadkari being prominent among them, who refuses to take punitive action against a rebellious and often-embarrassing BS Yeddyurappa.
"The fact that we have a sizable contingent of MPs in Parliament today as against the niggardly two seats in 1984, that our performance in the two Houses under Sushmaji and Jaitleyji has been excellent, that the party is in power in as many as nine states today is no compensation for the lapses committed.
"I had said at the core group meeting that if people are today angry with the UPA government, they are disappointed with us as well. The situation, I said, calls for introspection."
Advani's praise for Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, and Arun Jaitley, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, makes it evident that his ire is directed at Gadkari and his RSS mentors.
An embarassed BJP refused to react to Advani's blog on Thursday afternoon. Prakash Javdekar, who fielded questions at the BJP press conference at the party headquarters, tried to steer clear of any controversy. When badgered by persistent reporters for a response, he simply said "democracy" and disappeared from the conference hall.