Bharat Ratna for L K Advani signals Modi’s ‘Ram Temple’ poll pitch

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi sends message across the party that ‘Ram temple’ will remain central to BJP’s political journey post-2024 and the leaders and participants in the past were relevant to the party.

Narendra Modi & LK Advani

Narendra Modi & LK Advani

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By Deepak Kumar Upreti

New Delhi, February 3: ‘Bharat Ratna’, the highest civil honour in the country, is a belated compensation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the BJP patriarch L K Advani in his twilight years. But more importantly, it is yet another firm signal to the continuation of the BJP’s ‘Ram temple’ consecration narrative in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP patriarch, 96, who held the post of Deputy Prime Minister from 2002 to 2004, could not become the Prime Minister in 2009 when he was in the running for the top job. Subsequently, Modi pitched himself successfully as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014, and he led the majority government at the Centre. Modi’s maiden entry to the federal seat of governance was first resisted by Advani and others like the former BJP president and ex-Human Resource Development minister Murli Manohar Joshi, former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Shanta Kumar, former Finance minister Yashwant Sinha and former Union minister  Sushma Swaraj, the one-time Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, who later joined the Modi Cabinet as a foreign Minister.

With Modi well entrenched as Prime Minister, Advani and Joshi were put in a newly ‘constructed’ committee of elders ‘Margdarshak Mandal’, a toothless panel with then ailing Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Modi and then home minister Rajnath Singh as its other members. The body did not hold any meeting all through its ‘lapata tenure.’

Advani and other seniors remained cold to the Modi government in the years following 2014 and time and again took potshots at the Modi-Shah regime. In between, the sudden disappearance of the nameplate (working chairman of NDA) of the BJP leader from his office – Room number 4 – in Parliament triggered curious speculations on party’s attempt to nudge Advani to political retirement.

‘Bharat Ratna’ award to the BJP leader who led the stupendous ‘Rath Yatra’ on September 25, 1990, from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya in UP to build the Ram temple, amid the furor over the Mandal Commission report recommending quota for OBCs in government jobs, is Modi’s message across the party that ‘Ram Temple’ will remain central to the BJP’s political journey post-2024, and also that the leaders and participants in the past in the party are still relevant.

It also sends out message that the party recognises the ‘Hindutva’ contributions of Advani despite his delicate ‘secular somersault’  during his 2005 Karachi visit and his praise for Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah that had then riled the RSS. Advani was forced to quit as the BJP president in June 7, 2005.

The honour to Advani has come close in the heels of the Modi-government earlier bestowing the same, posthumously, to Bihar backward leader and the first non-Congress socialist Chief Minister of Bihar in 1970, Karpoori Thakur – a straightforward move to counter ‘caste census’ pitch by the Opposition Congress.

The ‘Bharat Ratna’ is also to assure the ‘Saffron Parivar’.  It is a good finale for Advani who had toiled hard for the BJP and was more popular in saffron cadre than even Vajpayee during his ‘Rath Yatra’ to Ayodhya where Modi, last month, did the last act of temple consecration as Prime Minister.

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1 thought on “Bharat Ratna for L K Advani signals Modi’s ‘Ram Temple’ poll pitch

  1. Mr Deepak Upreti has eloquently captured the significance of the Modi Government bestowing the Bharat Ratna on Advani, highlighting his pivotal role as the tallest BJP leader of his time and his relentless efforts in realising the historic goal of building the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. An insightful acknowledgment of Advani’s insurmountable contributions.

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