Home >Opinion >Online-views >L.K. Advani: The worst leader of our time

L.K. Advani, who will be 91 at the end of the new Lok Sabha, is the worst leader of our time.

I don’t mean the worst politician. Advani is quite good at doing politics. And he is brilliant at understanding how to expand a constituency in India. The way in which he took the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national is a case study in Indian electoral politics.

Advani is awful for the way in which he did it. He is worse than Narendra Modi, the other candidate for worst leader.

Modi did not create the incident at Godhra. It can be rightly said that he was incompetent in managing the acts of vengeance that followed.

But Advani created his Godhra, at Ayodhya. Quite deliberately, he set about to stir trouble against Muslims.

Shamefully, he then disowned the consequences. When the fired-up mob he led to the mosque completed its act of vandalism, he said he was surprised and saddened.

What did he expect they would do? Many hundreds died in the riots that followed, when Muslims were punished for having their mosque pulled down. The lotus bloomed on ground made fertile by corpses.

Advani did not understand that his movement was not positive, for the temple, but negative, against the mosque. And that is why the issue has died after the structure was flattened.

Advani’s views on such things were formed, according to his autobiography, by reading KM Munshi’s novels on Somnath. This primitive work has conditioned generations of Gujaratis, and all arguments against Muslims in Ahmedabad will begin with Somnath.

This building of the BJP on hate was the only achievement of Advani’s political life. He was not competent as a minister. At the age of 71, he took charge of home affairs. The three major events concerning his work during this period were at Kandahar, Kargil and Gujarat. The home ministry could not ground the hijacked airplane at Amritsar, and the BJP then surrendered to Jaish-e-Muhammad. At Kargil, Advani’s informants and spies had no clue of infiltration, leading to 400 martyrdoms. The story of Gujarat is before us.

If Advani has such a poor record on security, why did his supporters refer to him as being strong? Sadly, this image comes from his willingness to do violence to India’s Muslims.

The BJP mobilised anti-Muslim hatred on three particulars and called it an ideology.

The problem with ideology is that purer is more attractive. The man operating to the right of the moderate is always more appealing to the consumer of the ideology.

Advani was destined to be eclipsed by Modi, who did not mumble half-apologies for his inaction.

Today, Advani feels sorry for himself because the structure he erected has been hijacked.

Writing the foreword for Advani’s 2008 autobiography, his wingman Atal Bihari Vajpayee described him as “an outstanding leader whose best, I hope and pray, is yet to come."

No, it’s not. And thank whatever gods may be for that.

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