Whether he likes it or not, L. K. Advani should have accepted the party’s decision gracefully, without sulking. When he knew Narendra Modi would eventually become the party’s prime ministerial candidate, Advani, being the senior most active leader of the main opposition party, should have gone along with the party’s decision.
Advani, whose public life is as old Independent India, seems to have forgotten one needs to swallow bitter pills in politics. It’s true that he had to keep aside his dreams of becoming prime minister when the party became the single largest party in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections for his long term friend-cum-colleague Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not the only party which ditches long-term veterans when it comes to the top post.
In 2004, Congress president Sonia Gandhi ignored senior Congressmen including Pranab Mukherjee, Digvijay Singh, A.K. Antony, Motilal Vora and many others to choose Manmohan Singh, who just had over a decade long experience in the party. Akhilesh Yadav, one of the youngest leaders of the Samajwadi Party, was chosen as the chief minister over a spectrum of leaders eyeing the post.
Even in single personality-led parties like All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, senior leaders have accepted their leader’s decisions. Panneer Selvam was sworn in as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu in September 2001 after the appointment of then chief minister J Jayalalitha was quashed by the Supreme Court because she had been found guilty of criminal offences including a land grabbing case. Selvam resigned from the post in March 2002, after Supreme Court overturned her conviction and sentence. He was not the senior most in the party.
In a similar instance, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad handed over chief ministerial post to his wife Rabri Devi, who did not have any political experience or background in July 1997. Devi was not at all a preferred choice of the party or the workers, but his party had accepted the decision without any protests.
Advani is at the dusk of his political career. A move that could earn him respect and statesman-like stature would have been humbly ratifying the choice of his own party leaders and workers. The rest, he should have left to Indians.