What would you be doing at the age of 89? You may be either dead, ailing, retired, waiting to die or enjoying time with your grand kids, if your children chose not to abandon you. In family life or in socio-political life, not all elderly people are very lucky. More so, for people who continue to cling to something for a longer time than required. Take the example of senior BJP leader LK Advani, an 89-year-old veteran who has been with the saffron party since its inception. His awkward silence these days has drawn the attention of many political observers. Senior TV journalist Ravish Kumar recently wrote in a blog post, “Advani embodies our collective fate. We are all fated to become Advani in our lives one day – displaced from power, institutions and society.”
All good things come to an end. The home people build for years get occupied by a new generation, which often behaves like animals from an alien land. Ask Uttar Pradesh’s Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has recently discovered his biggest opposition in his own son Akhilesh, or the once very popular ND Tiwari, who is nothing but a white shadow of his colourful past.
In political conversations, people often gossip about Advani. “How Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have sidelined Advani?” “How Advani has been ditched by his own party?” Some even claim it is an injustice to years of “hard work” Advani put in to bring the party where it is right now. But then, would it have been better if Advani was the PM, not Modi, that too at the age of 89? Think about it. Some people opposing Modi for his ideology have started being sympathetic towards Advani. But, is there any difference between them in terms of ideology?
Advani is lucky now. He still has a “pariwar” which hasn’t abandoned him. The last time when Advani needed some luck was in 2009 when he lost to Manmohan Singh. In the run-up to the election, Advani, then 82, tried to project himself as a “decisive”, “strong” leader against a “meek” Manmohan Singh, who is almost five years younger to him. But India picked Manmohan, giving Advani a signal — quit before the age or fate catches up with you. But Advani clung to politics, probably hoping to get a PM call for 2014 when a certain Narendra Modi was making waves across the country.
We all remember the drama that unfolded ahead of the nomination of Modi as the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate in 2013. Advani sulked, Nitish Kumar, who is considered close to him, broke ties with BJP but now looks comfortable with Modi. Times change. Wise people change accordingly. But Advani couldn’t. He was lucky for the BJP found a way not to abandon but to find him an honourable place in the “margdarshak mandal.” Advani was saved from the tragedy. Would it have been better for him if the BJP hadn’t form a “margdarshak mandal”? Think about it.
Months ahead of the Presidential election, some reports claimed Modi would reward his “guru” Advani by giving him a perfect retirement home — the Raisina Hills. But the bugle for the end of Advani — the politician — was sounded much before when he was placed among the group of saffron guardians — the “margdarshak mandal”. As Ram Nath Kovind looks set to become the President, some would still rue the “sidelining” of Advani. But the post of President is not beyond politics. Hasn’t Congress done it before? Didn’t it abandon Narsimha Rao or picked Meira Kumar as Presidential candidate for political reasons?
Politics is about or by the one who is selling the most, not for the one past her/his expiry date. Modi is selling today. But this would not be the same always. A seat for him may be waiting in the “margdarshak mandal” and there is nothing surprising about it. Those who truly understand the ruthless nature of politics would vouch for this. A question, however, arises here. Does everyone have to face the fate of Advani? I believe no, if you can understand when is the right time to retire. Champion cricketers retire when they are at their best. Politicians are either forced or abandoned. Advani should have known this better. A champion Hindu Nationalist, how could he forget that ancient Hindu practices prescribe a “vanprastha ashram (retirement) for the elderly?