The biggest surprise in this election season was the dropping of veteran leader LK Advani from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat and ending his political journey.
The biggest surprise in this election season was the dropping of veteran BJP leader LK Advani from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat, which likely to end his political journey.
The saffron party fielded its president Amit Shah from Gandhinagar in place of 91-year-old Advani, who has won from the seat six times, barring the 1996 Lok Sabha polls. Advani has been representing Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha since 1998 and Shah was incidentally his poll manager in initial elections.
There was speculation in BJP that Margdarshak Mandal members, Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Shanta Kumar and Kalraj Mishra will not contest the upcoming general elections after union external minister Sushma Swaraj announced that she will not contest from Vidisha in the next Lok Sabha polls.
Advani, credited for crafting the BJP's rise to a pre-eminent position in the late 80s and 90s after it won just two Lok Sabha seats in 1984 Lok Sabha polls, has remained on the sidelines since he voiced his reservations on the nomination of Narendra Modi as the party's prime ministerial candidate in 2014.
Advani became the face of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement that shaped, and continues to define the saffron party's electoral and political fortunes. It was under Advani's leadership that the BJP grew from a fringe party to a contender for power. Although Advani was the BJP's prime ministerial candidate in 2009, the party lost to the Congress.
Before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP made Narendra Modi, Advani's one-time protege, its prime ministerial candidate, a move which apparently did not go down well with the party veteran.
The octogenarian leader was made a member of the 'Margdarshak Mandal' (Group of Mentors) after the BJP came to power in 2014, which seen as an attempt to ease him out of any key decision-making process. The Mandal hasn't met once since it was set up.
A report by News18 said that a senior leader from the RSS had visited Advani at his residence last week and informed him that the party would not be asking him to contest polls, officially citing his age. Also, the party was thinking of fielding Advani's son, but it was ruled out.
According to PTI report, Gujarat BJP workers want Shah to contest from Gandhinagar parliamentary seat. "BJP workers want party president Amit Shah to contest from Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat. I made this demand in front of the observers and it was supported by all," said Kishor Chauhan, a party MLA from Vejalpur, which is a part of Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency.
He said Shah was earlier an MLA from Sarkhej seat, which is also a part of the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency. "He (Shah) knows everybody here and is the right candidate to represent us," Chauhan said.
No BJP worker or leader staked claim for Gandhinagar and all of them "in one voice demanded that their national leader contest from the seat", party observer Nimaben Acharya said.
All BJP workers were of the view that the seat was held by a national leader so far, so someone from the central leadership should contest from here, another party observer Prithviraj Patel said.
First Published: IST