April 03, 2020
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Bull's Eye

A few days before the BJP decided to hold elections in April-May, this columnist refused to entertain the possibility of a decision so daft. He wrote: ...

Bull's Eye
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A few days before the BJP decided to hold elections in April-May, this columnist refused to entertain the possibility of a decision so daft. He wrote: "On present reckoning, the BJP and its allies could lose between 20 to 50 seats." Instead, the NDA lost a 100! What was the cause of this dismal defeat? It can be summed up in one word: Advani.

At the Hyderabad national executive meet of the BJP, Advani and Venkaiah Naidu forced a protesting Vajpayee into an early poll. Thereby the opportunity of clinching a decisive breakthrough in talks with Pakistan that could have created a genuine feelgood mood for encashment in October was dashed.

It was Advani who forged an alliance with Jayalalitha instead of assuaging the sentiments of Karunanidhi after Vaiko was arrested under POTA. The NDA and Jayalalitha got a big zero in the poll results.

It was also Advani who patronised Narendra Modi. His minions protected Modi from dismissal by Vajpayee in the Goa national executive meeting. As Union home minister, Advani ignored the Modi government's complicit role in the Gujarat riots, revealed in the official intelligence reports. After Modi's re-election, guilty ministers who monitored the riots were back in the government. Modi's personal attacks against Sonia Gandhi in the recent campaign not only lost BJP votes nationwide but also diminished the party in Gujarat.

It was Advani again who masterminded the BJP's break with its Haryana ally Chautala. Advani went to the extent of urging the electorate to vote for the Congress rather than Chautala's party! As a result, regional voters nationwide viewed the BJP with suspicion. Needless to say, the BJP scored a big zero in Haryana too.

It was Advani who started his drab, dull rath yatra as part of the election campaign instead of monitoring and restraining the virulent campaign speeches delivered by his party favourites. The campaign degenerated from focusing on the Vajpayee government's performance to Sonia-bashing and film star extravaganzas.

All this while Vajpayee alternated between wringing his hands in despair and condoning tacitly the actions of his partymen. Indeed, Vajpayee lost the game when he succumbed to pressure for early elections. Had Vajpayee clinched a breakthrough with Pakistan, he would have earned his place in history. Now, he's history.

So what is the result of this dismal defeat? The Indo-Pakistan peace process is in jeopardy. For that, Vajpayee is to blame. He was too weak dealing with his own party colleagues. People say Vajpayee is a nice man. Conceded. It's also true that nice guys finish last.

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