Advani’s “withdrawal” may come back to haunt BJP
As soon as former Bharatiya Janata Party president and political veteran Lal Krishna Advani announced that his role in the party and the Sangh Parivar “is much more than the post of prime minister” — he made it pretty clear that he may not be the preferred BJP candidate for the prime minister’s post in the 2014 general elections.
And soon the media and most political analysts made a pretty safe guess that the party would back current Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its next PM candidate. Yet others named Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley as strong contenders.
But a lot may happen between now and 2014. And as things stand currently, our next PM may be a coalition leader from one of the regional parties. Let us examine why.
Both the Congress and BJP seem leaderless now in a way. Modi is seen as just too controversial and the burden of the 2002 riots will follow him wherever he goes in his political career. Arun Jaitley is just not perceived as a mass leader. And while Sushma Swaraj may be a good “dancer” and is very popular, she just does not have the same political clout as Advani or Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“The party anyway and the RSS were uneasy about Advani’s rath yatra … He has had to deny that he was in the race … If his decision stands, I think it will be a negative for the BJP, as the party doesn’t seem to have anyone else,” said political commentator Amulya Ganguli.
It is the same issue with the Congress party. It is unlikely that Sonia Gandhi will put forward her candidature and Manmohan Singh will be PM for a third time running. Palaniappan Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee are more bureaucrats than mass leaders and Rahul Gandhi seems determined not to win any brownie points among the general public at all.
He is increasingly being seen as reclusive and uncomfortable with the mantle of Congress’ “crown prince”.
We now have a situation wherein neither of the two biggest political parties really seem to have that one charismatic, popular leader of the masses. In any case, neither of the two is strong enough to win an election while “flying solo” or with minimal help from allies. In fact, in the next elections, more than ever before, the regional parties within an alliance may be the one deciding who forms the government. Every seat they win may become even more valuable.
Thus, regional leaders like Mayawati, Nitish Kumar and Mamata Banerjee, to name a few, might just end up in the “hot seat”. Not a very appealing prospect for many, but the fact remains that such politicians will wield a greater influence within their alliances and may just end up calling the shots.
But again, a lot may happen between now and 2014.