Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani may be in contention to become the next President of India. According to reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has proposed Advani’s name for the presidency, during a party meeting in Gujarat’s Somnath.
Modi reportedly said that the President’s post would be a ‘guru dakshina’ for the 89-year-old leader. Advani himself was present in the meeting along with party president Amit Shah.
The Presidential election is due for July 2017. The UPA-supported candidate Pranab Mukherjee became the head of state in July 2012. His term ends on July 25, 2017.
After winning the crucial assembly elections in UP and Uttarakhand, as well as forming governments in Goa and Manipur, the saffron party is set to gain a majority in the Upper House, which will enable it to appoint a President of its choice.
It seems that Modi is trying to ‘sort out things’ with the octogenarian, after all he has completely overshadowed him, ever sine he became the PM candidate of the party. Like Mukherjee, who once dreamt of becoming the prime minister but had to do with the consolation prize of becoming the President, Advani too has been a prime ministerial candidate in the waiting for long.
A few factors that favour Advani for the post:
A major factor in favour of Advani is that he has always been considered as one of the most powerful leader in the BJP and was once the front-runner for the post of PM.
Advani has served as the Deputy Prime Minister of India and the post of the President would commensurate with his stature.
It is also believed that Modi has become such a big leader in the party that his name is synonymous with BJP now. The growing popularity of Modi has even troubled many other party leaders, who often meet Advani and complain about him. Now, if Advani is made the President, he will be further away from his party and other leaders, which will serve as good news for Modi.
If Advani is made the President, the first advantage Narendra Modi and Amit Shah will have is that Advani will not interfere in the internal affairs of the party.
Advani has been associated with the Sangh from a very long time. He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1942. He became a pracharak (full-time worker) of the Karachi branch and developed several shakhas there. After Partition, Advani was sent as a pracharak to Matsya-Alwar in Rajasthan. It seems that the final choice will be jointly made by Mohan Bhagwat and Modi, and the decision may go in favour of Advani.
Factors that go against him:
It is believed that for the post of President, one should have a clear track record and its classic example is APJ Abdul Kalam or Pratibha Patil for that matter.
Talking about Advani, one cannot ignore the biggest blot on his career, i.e. the Babri Masjid demolition case of 1992. On 6 December 1992, a large crowd of Hindu Karsevaks (volunteers) demolished the 16th-century Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya. The demolition occurred after a political rally at the site turned violent.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) began a campaign for the construction of a temple dedicated to Rama at the site, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as its political voice. Several rallies and marches were held as a part of this movement, including the Ram Rath Yatra led by LK Advani.
Recently, the Supreme Court hinted at reviving the criminal conspiracy charges and possibility of a joint trial in the case relating to the demolition of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure against the BJP top brass, including Advani.
Advani’s former daughter-in-law, Gauri Advani, reportedly wrote letters to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and RSS chief K Sudarshan accusing her father-in-law of “physically and mentally exploiting” her. She had even demanded for his expulsion from the party.
In 2014, all eyebrows were raised when the personal wealth of BJP’s veteran leader LK Advani, who filed his nomination papers from Gandhinagar constituency, doubled over a period of 5 years.
He and his wife had total assets of Rs 7.59 crore, up from Rs 3.73 crore in 2009. Notably, his wife, who was described as house wife in the affidavit — had Rs 64.13 lakh in her account in 2014 from the Rs 36.56 lakh in 2009. The affidavit mentioned that his wife had an annual income of 25.68 lakh.