A decision to field Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah from Gandhinagar in Gujarat was taken after veteran Lal Krishna Advani, 91, told the party leadership he was unwilling to contest the April-May parliamentary election, a person familiar with the issue said.
“Advani told the party three-four days back that he will not contest,” added this person who is close to the BJP leader and who did not wish to be identified.
“Once he communicated that decision to the party, it was up to them to decide who it wanted to field.”
The BJP released its first list of 184 candidates for the Lok Sabha election on Thursday, and dropped many leaders over the age of 75 from the list.
Garhwal MP BC Khanduri (84), Nainital MP Bhagat Singh Koshyari (76) and Guwahati MP Bijoya Chakravarty (79) were prominent omissions in the BJP list. Advani is 91.
“His decision to not contest the Lok Sabha election means he is retiring,” the person cited in the first instance said, adding that there has been no talk yet of sending Advani to the Rajya Sabha.
Advani’s decision to not contest the election marks the end of an illustrious chapter in the history of India’s ruling party, which grew in size phenomenally after Advani took out the rath yatra in 1990s, mustering support to build a Ram Temple at Ayodhya.
Advani was elected to the Rajya Sabha for four terms and to the Lok Sabha on seven occasions. He was country’s deputy prime minister, held key portfolios such as Home Ministry and headed the BJP several times.
Advani was BJP’s first ‘hindu hriday samrat’, and his hardline stance won him followers across the country, helped firm up his grip over the BJP, and won him many admirers in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – the BJP’s ideological mentor.
In sharp contrast to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Advani was a man of the organization who handpicked and patronized several BJP leaders for key roles.
Many second-generation leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi were considered his protégé. It is widely believed that it was Advani’s backing that saved Modi’s job as Gujarat chief minister after the Gujarat riots in 2002.
Advani and another veteran Murli Manohar Joshi were given an advisory role in BJP’s margdarshak mandal after party stormed to power in 2014. They missed ministerial berth after the party decided that no leader above the age of 75 would be made minister.
First Published: Mar 22, 2019 15:09 IST