Despondency over the current leadership
“Thehra na dil, na teergee-e shame gham gayee,
Yeh jaanta to aag lagata na ghar ko main”
The founder figure of the BJP, the hero of Ram Janambhoomi movement, Lal Kishan Advani stands forlorn today and nothing describes this better than these two lines from an Urdu couplet.
Sadly, it is Advani who set the house on fire, to overcome his gloominess and don the mantle of Shri Ram. Here is the man who created the Frankenstein of the autocrat Narendra Modi. Today he sees the prospects of an Emergency like situation, curtailing all civil rights, undermining democratic institutions looming large on the horizon and finds the present day dispensation incapable of facing such a challenge.
Advani has spoken to the Indian Express amidst the current controversy, raging over the financial misdemeanours of his two protégés Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhra Raje while charges are flying thick that insiders like Advani’s other creations Arun Jaitley, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah deliberately leaked this to the media to settle personal scores.
Advani is educated and therefore subtle. He is not the in your face Modi. On the face of it he has said nothing you could call anti-party or anti-Modi. But then he says it all. He says and I quote: “At the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger” and says at another place, “I don’t think anything has been done that gives me the assurance that civil liberties will not be suspended or Destroyed again. Not at all.” Now who does this threat to democracy come from? Naturally the government of the day and that’s the Prime Minister and all his men.
And if there was any doubt left he clears the ambiguity saying, “ I do not see any sign in our polity that assures me any outstanding aspect of leadership.” He elaborates further, “A commitment to democracy and to all other aspects related to democracy is lacking” and casts an aspersion of sorts on the present generation of leadership (naturally of his party) saying, “The number of people in this generation who are committed to democracy and civil liberties is going down.” If there was any ambiguity whether Advani was talking about his party or others he makes that amply clear when he says further, “Those whose presence in my generation gave me the confidence that they would not, only for the sake of personal or group advantage, compromise with democracy and civil liberties – they are to be seen less and less.” He says this witnessing the worst groupsim in the top leadership of his party.
To clear all confusion, he notes that, “Even when I think of writing a history of the Jana Sangh, I cannot think of many others who can help me write a correct history.” And what is the octogenarian patriarch of the Jana Sangh/BJP implying? That, in the present situation, even he fears writing the correct history of the Jana Sangh for fear of being ostracized if not lynched by a mob of Sanghi hooligans, shouting “Modi, Modi.” And finally he concedes the weaknesses of the present leadership saying’ “I do not say the present leadership is not mature. “But kamiyon ke karan vishwas nahin hota.”
The one time veteran journalist has even less faith in other institutions specially the media and its commitment to democracy saying, “Certain sections of the Press may have become more alert. The media is more independent today but does it have a real commitment to democracy and civil liberties – I don’t know. It is something that must be put to the test.” Similar despondency is evident with regards to Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal and his band of followers when Advani says, “In civil society we have only seen the Anna mobilization for the Lokpal in recent times. But it has disappointed after raising hopes. The failure of the movement has highlighted that if an agitation takes the form of government it will not be successful.” The man whom the judiciary saved from political isolation and ignominy over Hawala scam, does mention the judiciary as well but avoids an adverse comment, expecting the judiciary to shoulder all the responsibility of saving democracy, saying, “Of the various institutions that are to be held responsible for a well-functioning democracy in India today, the judiciary is more responsible that the others.”