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Bharat Ratna to Advani: Modi pulls a rabbit out of a hat yet again

By Rakesh Ranjan, VK Shukla- 03 Feb 2024
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New Delhi (03.02.2024): Forcing Lal Krishna Advani to hang his boots was the biggest allegation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also meting out such a shabby treatment to his political mentor who stood by him as Union Home Minister after 2002 Gujarat riots despite attacks on him from all across including within the BJP. Occasionally, the BJP faced embarrassment by verbal attacks from Opposition for making Advani part of the Margdarshak Mandal in view of his contribution to build the party but conferring Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country, on him has changed the entire political narrative around Modi once again.
It was his Rath Yatra that catapulted the BJP from a party with two members in the Lok Sabha in 1984 to 85 members in 1989 and brought the BJP to power from 1999 to 2004. But Advani failed to muster enough support to break the image of the PM in the perpetual waiting and the era of Narendra Modi started with a bang who managed to get the BJP cross the magic mark of 272 when it had won 282 seats in 2014. This is when dusk on leaders like L K Advani and MM Joshi set in. The era of A B Vajpayee, L K Advani and M M Joshi was replaced by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah who politely refused to give them tickets in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The process started when Modi was announced Prime Ministerial candidate despite Advani having reservation over it and Joshi waiting for his term had to vacate the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat for Modi to contest from Kanpur in 2014.
A section of the media lapped up the occasion and suddenly became very sympathetic towards Advani for his so-called humiliation at the hands of his own political creation. However, this is also a media creation as Modi was always his own man. No one has created him, he always created space for himself. But criticism of Modi and Shah was a regular subject of media discussions. Now, with conferring Bharat Ratna, Modi has not only silenced his unwavering detractors but also rubbed salt into the wounds of the critiques of Hindutva politics. In the bargain, he has become even a bigger and more towering leader and one and only Hindu Hriday Samrat by conferring Bharat Ratna to such a leader whom he is accused of sidelining.
Let’s talk about the politics behind the move, which is bound to be discussed after this decision. There are many Bharat Ratna decisions that were alleged to be politically motivated. The Congress found it fit to confer the award on M G Ramachandran 1988. Sardar Patel was given in 1991, Jay Prakash Narayan and Amartya Sen in 1999, Sachin Tendulkar just before election in 2014, Pranab Mukherjee and Nanaji Deshmukh in 2019 just before elections to name a few.
By conferring Bharat Ratna on Karpuri Thakur, the Modi dispensation has sent across the message in the OBC community especially EBCs that it is Narendra Modi who takes care of every section of the OBC. He mesmerised Hindutva supporters by giving Bharat Ratna to L K Advani in the same year when just a fortnight ago he participated in the consecration ceremony of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The emotionally surcharged environment in the country will get a further boost with this decision when any moment Lok Sabha elections are likely to be announced. No one knows what Modi will pull out next from his hat!

(Rakesh Ranjan & Vinod Kumar Shukla)

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