Advani will remain BJP’s tallest leader, says Sena

‘Bhishmacharya of politics being forced to retire’

The Shiv Sena on Saturday said L.K. Advani would remain the “tallest leader” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), irrespective of his poll presence, two days after the party nominated its chief Amit Shah from Gandhinagar, a seat earlier represented by the BJP patriarch.

In an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana, the Sena said Mr. Shah contesting in place of Mr. Advani politically translated as the ‘Bhishmacharya’ of Indian politics being “forced” to retire. “Lal Krishna Advani is known as the ‘Bhishmacharya’ of Indian politics, but his name does not feature in the list of BJP’s candidates for Lok Sabha polls, which is not surprising,” the editorial said.

The Sena said the development underlined that the BJP’s Advani era has come to an end.

Marking a generational shift in the BJP, the party recently announced the candidature of Mr. Shah, who will be contesting his debut parliamentary election, from Gandhinagar.

Mr. Advani, 91, had served as Union home minister and deputy prime minister. He won the Gandhinagar seat six times. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP to massive victory in 2014 and Mr. Shah was made the party president, Mr. Advani was made a member of the Margdarshak Mandal (group of mentors).

The Sena said, “Mr. Advani was one of the founding members of the BJP, who along with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee steered the rath of the party ahead. But today, Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah have taken their (Vajpayee and Advani’s) place. An environment has already been created in the party to ensure that seniors do not get any responsibility this time,” it said.

The Sena further said Mr. Advani has played a “long innings” in politics and would remain the “tallest leader” of the BJP.

The Sena, which is contesting next month’s Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the BJP, said it didn’t believe that a leader retains his top position only if he continues to be in active politics.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led party also attacked the Congress, which has said the Gandhinagar seat has been snatched from Mr. Advani. “The party (Congress) should not talk about insult to elders. The then prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, who had steered the Congress governments in difficult times, was insulted by the party even after his death,” it said.

The Sena also referred to the 2013 incident when Rahul Gandhi tore an ordinance on protecting convicted lawmakers in the presence of the then prime minister Manmohan Singh.

“What happened with Sitaram Kesari (former Congress president who was succeeded by Sonia Gandhi)? … It does not suit the Congress to talk about respecting elders,” the Sena said.

Praising Mr. Advani, the Sena said he was responsible for expanding the BJP’s footprint across the country. “Every shining sun has to set. The BJP could reach the top because of Mr. Advani’s ‘Rath yatra’ in Ayodhya in 1990s. The BJP is reaping (dividends) because of Mr. Advani’s toil,” the Sena said.

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