Why resign

The onus of articulation is on L.K. Advani

In the short term, L.K. Advani's resignation from three important BJP fora touches off a question: is it possible to go back now, for the party or its patriarch? In the past days and months, the house on Prithviraj Road has seemed more and more secluded from the BJP. A meeting point may still be found, but as the stalwart's isolation, picturesque and poignant, from the gathering in Goa showed, it will be contrived. For the long term, however, Advani's resignation has triggered a more important question: why, precisely, did he resign? His resignation letter talks of the party's "current functioning", the "direction in which it is going", and suggests a loss of idealism and predominance of "personal agendas" — euphemistic terms to explain a decision taken the day after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's elevation in Goa as chairman of the party's election campaign committee. Evidently, Modi's promotion is linked to Advani's disillusion. Why is that so? This is a question the party's founding father has not answered.

It's an answer he must give, and not through another cryptic blog. The leader who gave a new language to a political mobilisation he both created and stoked through his rath yatra, the ideologue who lent salience and currency to "pseudo-secularism" and "cultural nationalism" in the 1990s, challenging the prevailing centre-left consensus and complacence, must now tell us why he feels Modi's ascension in the party so alienates him. By not doing so, he would be doing a disservice not just to his party, but also to his own long and arduous career. His silence would only lend credence to the rumour and caricature of the party elder who still wants to play hero, the pre-eminent leader turned chief naysayer. Advani must also speak out to dispel the confusion. After all, the core issue on account of which many others oppose and resist Modi's rise — his alleged complicity in the violence of Gujarat 2002 — cannot, in good faith, be the reason for the man who fought for Modi's continuance as chief minister at another conclave in Goa, 11 years ago. And it is not clear how Modi's ascendance epitomises or exacerbates any of the other problems Advani has flagged in the party in recent times, behind closed doors — be it the increasing domination of money power or growing RSS control.

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