FOLLOW THE LEADER

Veteran politician Lal Krishna Advani, the architect of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP's) mass-party avatar, has been considered Atal Bihari Vajpayee's equal in the sphere of Indian polity in general, and the BJP in particular. Born on November 8, 1927, he was one of the longest-serving presidents of the BJP. Advani, like many of the BJP bigwigs, began his political career as a volunteer for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He went on to serve as the Minister of Home Affairs in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government from 1998 to 2004. From the year 2002 to 2004, under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he served as the Deputy Prime Minister of India.
 
Previously, under Advani’s leadership, the BJP had become the political face of the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign in the early 1990s.
 
Between 1998 and 2019, Advani has been a member of five Lok Sabhas (12th-16th). He was the No. 2 in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government (1998-2004) and remained the Leader of Opposition during much of Manmohan Singh's UPA era (2004-2014).
 
Soon after Narendra Modi took charge as the prime minister in 2014, Advani was dropped from the BJP’s top-decision-making bodies — BJP parliamentary board and its central election committee. He, along with Vajpayee and Murli Manohar Joshi, was made part of the Margdarshak Mandal, a club whose stated aim was to enlighten the BJP’s path.
 
In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there has been a lot of talk around the BJP not giving Advani a ticket and instead fielding current BJP president Amit Shah from his usual seat of Gandhinagar.
 
This is for the first time since 1998 that Advani is not contesting elections. BJP's move to drop him from its list of candidates has given the Opposition an opportunity to target the party over its disregard for elders and 'margdarshaks'. On March 30, right after filing nominations for the polls, Amit Shah said he would 'follow the legacy of Advani'. How the saffron party intends to follow Advani’s legacy, and how well, will be keenly watched.