Is Babri Demolition Case the Undoing of Advani's Presidential Dream?
Of late, Advani has tried to reach out to the BJP's ideological fount, the RSS. (News18)
New Delhi: In 1990, LK Advani rode the Ram Rath to Ayodhya and to the centre stage in national politics. Ironically, 27 years later, the framing of charges in the Babri Masjid destruction case may drag him down in the final lap of the Presidential race.
The SC in April gave its go ahead to the CBI to frame charges against top BJP leaders, including Advani and Dr MM Joshi, in the criminal conspiracy case leading to the demolition of the structure on December 6, 1992.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was asked after the SC order if the SC decision would have a bearing on any proposal to nominate the two veteran BJP leaders for the top two constitutional positions. "It's a hypothetical question," Jaitley replied.
Interestingly, Advani's name for the top constitutional post has not come from within the party.
TMC leader and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in an interview in March had indicated her party's willingness to support Advani as the consensus choice if the BJP were to propose the octogenarian leader's candidature.
But would the BJP and the RSS relent and give nomination to Advani — the first poster boy of Hindutva politics in India.
A strict disciplinarian and a staunch party-man, Advani's relationship with the RSS in the last one decade has anything but deteriorated. The turning point was the Jinnah controversy. After that, on many occasions, he's had his runs ins with the Sangh — from giving second term to Nitin Gadkari as party president to Narendra Modi's nomination as campaign committee chief.
The prodigy in one decade became a competitors, and Advani in the run-up to the 2014 polls also boycotted BJP parliamentary board which named Modi as PM candidate.
Of late, however, Advani has tried to reach out to the BJP's ideological fount. Speaking at a function earlier this year, reminisced about his association with the RSS.
"RSS swayamsevaks have occupied but one top constitutional position in this country. No swayamsevaks has been the President of India. Would they want a person of stature and Sangh background to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhawan? " asked a BJP insider who has watched Advani's rise in the party.
"The two positions — President and Vice-president — would be honoured if Advani and Joshi were to occupy them," says Campat Rai, VP general secretary, one of the 13 accused in the case against whom chargesheet will be filed by the CBI in the Lucknow Court.
But after a decade of tumultuous relationship, would RSS and Modi concede?
(This report was originally published on April 19, 2017)
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