From not leaving Advani’s side to side-tracking him, the fragile relationship of these guru-shishya has seen as many ups and downs as possible.
About 28 years ago, Lal Krishna Advani, in his quest to bring BJP in the cultural and political forefront of the country started a Rath Yatra. The Yatra changed the country’s political history forever. Advani himself came into the national spotlight as a poster boy of Hindutva and BJP finally set its ground. The one person who was the key architect of this history-changing event was- Narendra Modi, the disciple of Advani. During this month-long Yatra, he was always seen by Advani’s side. Modi rose to his claim to fame after he coordinated the arrangements for the Rath Yatra and travelled through Gujarat-leg to Mumbai. This campaign was a hit in both the states, in terms of seamless arrangements and public support and he earned a name within the circles of BJP.
Advani, thereafter rose to a greater stature in BJP after he was elected as the President of the party on June 4th, 1993. This happened just 6 months after the Babri Masjid demolition and despite being charged with a criminal case, Advani was made the president of the party. Not only BJP, but Advani also reaped benefits from the fruit of Hindutva that he had sown. The Hindutva-wadi support for BJP became so high for the party that it ended up marking its spot in the national front. Before Advani became the President of BJP, the party had only managed to accumulate 2 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. However, after the success of the Yatra, and hardline Hindutva seeping in through the cracks of every household, they were able to form a government in 1998.
Along with the success of BJP, Modi also gradually climbed the ranks in RSS for his continuous work for the Sangh, and with the continuous support and backing of Advani, Modi rose through the ranks in BJP, too. Later when Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted Modi ‘to go’ from the Chief Ministerial post and from the party after his mismanagement of the Godhra riots, it was Advani who had Modi’s back. During the National Executive meeting that was held in Panaji in context of how Modi handled the Godhra and his treatment of the fragile situation, Modi took to the dais and said he would resign as the CM of Gujarat, but his party members retorted saying there was no need. However, it was later found out that it was Advani who gave Modi a head’s up on the situation and protected him by suggesting this way out to him.
What changed in 2013?
Right before the Lok Sabha elections, Modi emerged as the Prime Ministerial candidate for BJP. Even though LK Advani was the star campaigner in the past years, it was Modi who became the prime candidate. Modi had only agreed to become the chief of the campaign committee for BJP only after his name was put forward as the PM candidate. Since BJP needed a face to represent itself in the elections and they needed someone who enjoyed humungous mass popularity, he was chosen without flinching. This step from party’s side and a huge betrayal by his disciple made Advani very upset. Advani resigned from the party’s top three posts- National Executive, Parliamentary Board and Election Committee to show his opposition to the decision.
Though the party had denied all the rumours of this fall out between the guru-shishya but a lot of incidents have proved that teacher-students who were once inseparable, now don’t even meet eyes. However, the party persuaded Advani to withdraw his resignation since neither RSS nor senior BJP members wanted him to leave the party in such a manner.
After the incident in 2013, while campaigning for Shivraj Singh Chouhan for Madhya Pradesh elections, Advani and Modi shared a stage for the first time since the two had their difference after Modi’s name was called out as the Prime Ministerial candidate. Narendra Modi touched LK Advani’s feet on a huge stage in Bhopal, but the BJP’s senior-most leader scripted yet another awkward moment for the party by barely looking at him. This incident stuck with Prime Minister Modi. Things have just gone downhill between the Modi and Advani, ever since.
When Prime Minister Modi had the opportunity to pay back his dues to his mentor, Advani’s name that was ignored when the list of potential Presidential candidates was made. Advani being the senior most member of the party, who held a lot of experience was the fittest candidate for this position but was not even considered for this post. This was not the last time that Advani was ‘ignored’ by Modi at a place.
Recently, when the campaigning for Gujarat elections took place, Yogi Adityanath was seen as the star campaigner in the rallies. The place that was considered to be the home turf of Lal Krishna Advani saw his absence. Moreover, during a rally at Tripura, Advani was seen with folded hands, standing amongst the ministers to greet Prime Minister Modi, only to be ignored and passed by.
This can be Modi’s subtle way of pointing to Advani and saying “We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete. When I met you I was but the learner. Now, I am the master.” Almost pointing out that it is he, Modi who controls the political game and Advani has been very skilfully been side-tracked.