For 1,806 days, L K Advani did not blog and if he had managed to hold on for another 19 days, veteran BJP leader could have completed without uploading his thoughts on his website for a full five years.
He broke his resolve on Thursday evening to pen a 512 word blog ‘Nation First, Party Next, Self Last’, which was seen a not-so-subtle message to the current BJP leadership under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah about his displeasure and unhappiness over the way the party is run.
Advani’s reference to BJP not treating its opponents as enemies or regarding those who disagree with them politically as anti-national “right from its inception” is seen as a direct echo of the Opposition accusation against Modi and Shah. As Modi seeks re-election, he also reminds the electorate that it is an “occasion for honest introspection by all the stakeholders in Indian democracy”.
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo tweeted, “as the senior most politician, former Deputy Prime Minister and founding father of BJP, the views Advani-ji has expressed about extending democratic courtesies, is significant. Of course, all Opposition who raise their voices are not anti-national. We welcome his statement and convey our humble regards.”
As the social media lapped up the blog, Modi shared the blog on twitter saying, “Advani-ji perfectly sums up the true essence of BJP, most notably the guiding Mantra of ‘Nation First, Party Next, Self Last.’ Proud to be a BJP Karyakarta and proud that greats like LK Advani-ji have strengthened it.”
However, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti found the blog “surprising” and said that it came very late. “BJP Patriarch questioning current brass for terming entire opposition as anti national is surprising. Not a word was uttered since 2014. Instead, its finally said when BJPs tenure at Centre is almost over. Wish he had spoken up all these years. Badi dair kar di mehrbaan aate aate,” she tweeted.
The latest blog comes two days ahead of the BJP Foundation Day and was released to media through the office of Advani. Usually, Advani’s statements and messages were shared with media by the BJP Media Cell.
His last blog was on 23 April, 2014, a month before Modi government assumed power, when he shared “some snippets (mostly media coverage) from my campaign trail” while he had written a travelogue for an English weekly in 2016 after he returned from a ten-day trip to Italy, Spain and France, his “first-ever holiday”. He had then met Pope Francis too.
A seven-term MP and former Deputy Prime Minister, he is not contesting this time and his traditional Gandhinagar seat has been chosen by Shah for his Lok Sabha debut, signalling the end of an era of the senior leaders like Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
Advani, who was shunted out to the ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ along with other senior leaders, has so far not said anything in public about not contesting the seat but there were murmurs about his displeasure over sending BJP General Secretary (Organisation) Ram Lal to convey the message that he should not contest. He was apparently upset that Modi and Shah did not show the courtesy of conveying their wish personally.
Soon after Ram Lal approached Joshi with the message, Joshi had issued a terse statement to his voters in Kanpur that he has been asked not to contest. Earlier, senior BJP leader Uma Bharti had said that Advani should “clear the mist” surrounding his candidature.
In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Advani had voiced his opposition towards the elevation of Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate and many of his close aides, including Arun Jaitley, had deserted him then.
In Parliament, Advani had earlier expressed his anguish over the way the government had run the Lok Sabha following disruptions. He had shown his exasperation at the government not taking enough measures to ensure the running of the House and once, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had to pacify him.