Skip to main content

Advani will regret supporting Modi, predicted Vajpayee, who had wanted Modi to step down as Gujarat CM

Advani, Vajpayee, Modi at a public rally in Ahmedabad
By RK Misra*
After a life embedded in flowing prose and lyrical poetry, embellishing harsh politics with soft imagery, Atal Bihari Vajpayee entered the domain of the dead on August 16, 2018. A sombre nation spared time from lynchings and launchings to lament. The dust has settled. The man is no more, but images linger: Of ironies and contrasts, of the first saffron prime minister viewed from the home state of the next one. Of the time when there was melody in politics and the heart stirred to a captivating tune, of feet stomp stadiums, shrill-shriek speeches and snuff lives on the street.
As in his last days, so in 1980, Vajpayee stood straddling the divide between irrelevance and irreverence. The 1977 post-Emergency Janata Party experiment, which had brought the first non-Congress government to power headed by Gujarati Morarji Desai,  had come unstuck. The contentious issue was the dual membership of the erstwhile Jan Sangh members.
The Jana Sangh was re-born as the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) with Vajpayee as it’s first president in 1980. Soon after, he was in Rajkot, considered the bastion of the saffron outfit in Gujarat, to address one of his initial public meetings , post the re-birth.
The memory is still vivid for this correspondent present that night to cover the event. A bowed head Vajpayee and his by-now famous pauses -- pregnant with verbal possibilities -- and an overflowing ground with it’s gaze fixed at the man. The face rises to utter just a single sentence -- the world is round (duniya gol hai) -- and goes blank again before it lights up, almost after eternity to utter, "We are back to where we started” (jahan the wahi aa gaye). The tone, the tenor, the man and his prose. The gathering is in raptures. Candid as he was, Vajpayee could carry a situation merely by mocking himself and his predicament!
Who else could have seen the BJP plumb the bottom getting merely two seats in a Lok Sabha of 543 members four years later (1984), and oscillate to power at the head of an NDA coalition in 1999,and more importantly rule for the length of the term, his earlier terms aborting prematurely at 13 days and 13 months respectively.
If present Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an Uttar Pradesh connect in Varanasi, Vajpayee also had a momentary flirtation with Gujarat. He had contested from Gujarat’s capital, Gandhinagar, and Lucknow parliamentary constituencies in 1996, but unlike Modi, who gave up Vadodara in his home state to retain Varanasi, Vajpayee opted for his roots.
Simple assumptions singe but comparisons provide clarity. Vajpayee was vanilla, fragrant with velvet hiding a crusted core but a humane spirit. His saffron successor in government has neither time nor space for such niceties, cold, and ruthless as he is in the pursuit of absolute power.
It shows in his approach to Vajpayee as well. The late leader, quite literally, must be restless in his grave to see those who neglected him in his life after he fell ill are now ‘marketing’ his death. The ‘asthi-kalash’ yatras (carrying the ashes of the dead leader) to every district of the country quite literally turned an occasion of sobriety into a saddening spectacle.
The forthcoming Assembly elections to Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram was apparently playing on the minds of the ruling party. The just concluded national executive of the BJP cemented lingering doubts by adding his name to the party’s new slogan for the 2019 general elections -- ‘Ajay Bharat, Atal BJP’ (Indomitable India, Unshakeable BJP). Cash-in and carry on!
Contrary to what is sought to be made out, Modi owes his political survival, salvation and rise to only one person, party veteran LK Advani. He shared an uneasy equation with Vajpayee, who was inherently suspicious of his behind the scene manipulations.
Vajpayee generally refrained from interfering in matters pertaining to Gujarat and would candidly tell political complainants from his own party to talk to Advaniji. He was known to have a soft corner for Kashiram Rana,  who was twice minister textiles in his government, and former chief minister Suresh Mehta. After Modi returned as chief minister in 200, both became persona non-grata and were virtually hounded out.
Incidentally, Rana as Gujarat BJP president in 1993 had dropped Modi as general secretary and replaced him with Suresh Mehta. There were protests, and even Advani was heckled at a function.
Gordhan Zadaphia, in the period he quit the BJP and formed his own regional outfit, had confessed to this correspondent how these 'spontaneous’ protests was the work of the threesome -- Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia, Modi and him.
Zadaphia, who was the minister of state for home in the Modi government during the 2002 communal riots, subsequently fell out with Modi but has since returned to the BJP. One time close pals, the Togadia-Modi feud leading to the ouster of the VHP chief is a known fact now.
Interestingly, when Shankersinh Vaghela rebelled taking away a large chunk of BJP legislators to Khajuraho, threatening the stability of the Keshubhai Patel government, it was Vajpayee who had struck a compromise. Under the terms of the compromise, Keshubhai Patel was replaced by Suresh Mehta and Modi was moved out of Gujarat.
Among those who had demonstrated against the compromise outside the VIP Circuit House in Gandhinagar where Vajpayee was put up that night was Anandiben Patel, who remained a senior minister in the Modi cabinet in Gujarat, succeeded him as chief minister and is presently the Madhya Pradesh governor.
Vajpayee was also very upset when a public function in his honour at the Sardar Patel stadium in Ahmedabad on May 20, 1996 was used to virtually lynch an elderly cabinet minister, Atmaram Patel of their own BJP led Suresh Mehta government. Patel and others owed allegiance to Vaghela and were brought into the cabinet after Vajpayee brokered the peace.
While an FIR of attempt to murder was registered against Togadia and 38 others after the incident, the matter lingered on for 22 years despite the formal move by the government to withdraw the case in 1998.The case came alive suddenly in January 2018 when warrants were issued for Togadia’s arrest and he levelled allegations implicating the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) in the move. The case was closed thereafter.
When the 2001 earthquake devastated Kutch, Vajpayee had pulled out all stops to ensure relief and rehabilitation. Among many others, he sanctioned over Rs 100 crore from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to rebuild the Kutch district hospital into a state-of- the-art medical facility. He wanted it to be the first of the four All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS) to be built outside Delhi. Alas, this was not to be. The hospital was handed over to the corporate giant Adani to run during the tenure of chief minister Modi and remains with them.
Vajpayee’s remark at the airport press conference on April 4, 2002 after a day-long visit to  the riot-affected Ahmedabad, where he reminded chief minister Modi of his ‘raj-dharma’ and Modi’s displeasuredly, low voiced intervention 'wohi to kar raha hun saab’ (that’s what I am doing sir) will continue to haunt him for a long time to come.
Not content by merely chastising in public, Prime Minister Vajpayee felt the need to shoot off a letter dated June 1, 2002 (two months later), expressing doubts whether the interests of the riot-hit were being looked after by the state government properly and stressing on the need to do so forthwith.
It is common knowledge that Vajpayee wanted Modi replaced as chief minister after the riots and had made this known to Advani. The stage for the change was to be set at the Panjim national executive of the BJP. Advani let the cat out of the bag to Modi, who upstaged Vajpayee by tendering his resignation to ‘orchestrated’ shouts opposing the move, while Advani sat silent through the entire drama.
Vajpayee had subsequently vented his anguish and anger to a journalist close to him with the words "lalkrishna ek din bahut pastayenge’ (one day Lal Krishna will regret this). Prophetic words indeed!
---
*Senior Gujarat-based journalist. Blog: http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.com/

Comments

TRENDING

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”