Press Platitudes

BY DARIUS NAKHOONWALA

L K Advani’s tantrums, I had always thought, provide excellent fodder for edits. You know, the usual thing about his being too old, too stubborn, too useless for the party etc. So it was not surprising that his latest pouting over the Gandhinagar or Bhopal choice should have led to the usual commentary.

But what was very surprising was that the Indian Express, never a slouch in such matters, should have kept quiet. Not a peep, nor a hiss, total silence at least until Friday.

By Saturday it will be old news and third edit slot which, by the way, on Friday was devoted to Barak Obama appearing on some comedy show in the US. Arre bhai, was Advani less comic?

However, the New Indian Express which is a sort of country cousin to the Indian Express, and is published from Chennai, was absolutely forthright.

“With so much dirty linen being washed in public the BJP’s claims of total consensus on all decisions over the past few weeks hold no water. The growing resentment against the party’s rapid transformation into a one-man entity points toward unease among its hardcore followers…Clearly, the BJP is now dependent on individuals and not an ideology. It is now a party with festering differences and becoming a subject of ridicule.”

The Hindu, in its usual confused state, didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Try as it might, the BJP has not been able to paper over its own internal dissensions coinciding with the rising national profile of the Gujarat Chief Minister… The BJP’s founder-leader, L.K. Advani, has been overruled time and again, and Sushma Swaraj, with an impressive record in Parliament, has not fared any better… Murli Manohar Joshi has barely concealed his annoyance.” The advice that the paper offered: “As Mr. Modi forges ahead in the electoral race, he will do well to ensure that his own party is on board with him.”

I am sure he will pay heed to the Hindu.

The Telegraph took the old line: “Mr Advani had a simple choice to make at the time of Mr Modi’s elevation – he should have called it a day… Unfortunately,  Mr Advani did no such thing either in 2004 or this time, when Mr Modi was chosen by the party over him… he has ended up reducing himself to a factional leader… In politics, as in everything else in life, it is important to know when the time is up.”

The Times of India said much the same things, citing Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj etc. On Advani it said his “unwillingness to contest from Gandhinagar is bound to resurrect discussions about the BJP stalwart’s disapproval of the Modi campaign… BJP’s ticket distribution woes are hardly confined to the party’s top leadership… disgruntled ticket seekers in UP haven’t refrained from burning effigies of BJP president Rajnath Singh and Modi, General V K Singh and Kirron Kher…have had to face protests from a section of party workers…Advani and his contemporaries are stuck on the old cultural nationalist message, Modi promises development and jobs. But Modi’s reputation of being a polarising personality who rides roughshod over dissent instead of taking others along is working against him.”

The Pioneer, as a pro-BJP paper sought to play down all this saying all was well. I felt very sorry for it.

 -by arrangement with The Hoot