BJP’s tallest leader attracts the thinnest crowds in Gandhinagar

Virendra Pandit | | Updated on: Mar 12, 2018

Party cadres show little enthusiasm in Advani’s campaign

In this poll season, BJP patriarch LK Advani, once the Hindutva poster boy, may have got support from unexpected quarters in his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency — the Muslim areas where the BJP has refrained from mentioning Narendra Modi or displaying the posters of the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

But, unlike in the past, electioneering for the old warhorse has not been enthusiastic. Despite an apparently indifferent BJP rank-and-file, he has tried to recreate his old magic, but few party workers have greeted him this poll season with “Advaniji Zindabad.”

The former Deputy Prime Minister, who rebelled thrice in less than a year against the ‘promotion’ of his one-time-protégé as the PM candidate, seems to have accepted the inevitable change of guard in his party, if only to retain the Gandhinagar seat a sixth time.

Although some of Modi’s close aides like Anandiben Patel canvassed support for Advani, the thinly-attended meetings and rallies spoke volumes about party workers’ disinterest in the Gandhinagar constituency even as they flooded Vadodara to support Modi.

Besides his family members — son Jayant and daughter Pratibha — the only notable local leader Advani had by his side during the campaign was his other protégé, Harin Pathak.

'Ironically, ‘solace’ came to Advani aides not from Hindu-dominated areas but from the Muslim-dominated Juhapura on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, part of the Gandhinagar constituency.

It was only in this enclave that no BJP leader mentioned Modi, nor pasted his posters. Among those who canvassed support for Advani were Irfan Ahmed and Aslam Gurukkal, national vice-president and secretary, respectively, of the BJP Minority Morcha.

No Modi here

Juhapura, perhaps India’s largest Muslim ghetto, has nearly 1.5 lakh voters.

Even election material distributed in this area did not have a Modi photograph. Advani’s supporters believe he will retain his seat, not only because the Congress has put up a “weak” candidate in former minister Kirit Patel, but also because the defeat of BJP’s senior-most leader would then be squarely blamed on Modi, a party source said.

On his part, Modi addressed a solitary meeting in the constituency on Sunday at Kalol, in Advani’s absence.

Published on April 29, 2014
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