NEW DELHI (TIP): LK Advani relented on March 20, as he’s done after earlier shows of rebellion, but he did so after forcing personal interventions from virtually the entire BJP-RSS brass.
The late evening announcement that Advani will contest from Gandhinagar, as decided by BJP, came after strong RSS intervention and assurances by Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders that Advani will be backed by local cadre in his contest from the Gujarat seat.
BJP leaders, who refused to be quoted, said Thursday’s agreement, essentially brokered by RSS, prevented any significant damage to Modi’s authority. A senior leader said Advani toeing the party line was “proof that Modi’s word finally prevailed”. Advani was visited by Modi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu. Rajnath Singh issued a statement saying Advani can choose his seat.
But it was the concerted intervention by RSS brass — Mohan Bhagwat and Bhaiyyaji Joshi — that persuaded Advani to fall in line. Leaders in BJP and Sangh said one of the reasons they were worried about Advani contesting from Bhopal was the possibility of a “Madhya Pradesh morcha” in BJP. They said an Advani win from MP could have strengthened an anti-Modi section in BJP, with Advani as the rallying point and MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan as the power behind the faction.