The BJP recently announced Mr. LK Advani would be its next PM candidate. For the first time, the party seems to have stepped up and announced a formal succession plan. After the defeat at the last Lok Sabha polls, the party has been struggling with all kinds of infighting, first on the party President’s post, the controversy over Advani’s visit to Pakistan, the silence over Vajpayee’s health, infighting and defection in its Gujarat ranks, to state a few.
One can’t help but wonder if this recent announcement is a first major step towards the BJP finally getting its act together. Mr. Manmohan Singh quite uncharacteristically weighed in, that this was an attempt by the BJP to fight the rise of Modi. Irrespective of the validity or merit of the decision, the good news is that the BJP appears to have for the first time since its poll debacle almost four years back, started to communicate clearly. It remains to be seen how long this sustains. At a personal level it must be a big boost for Mr. Advani, who has had an on-again-off-again issue despite being viewed by most as BJP’s heir apparent. At 80, the next election could well be his last and final shot at the PM’s chair. With Mr. Vajpayee in retirement mode, the next several months will be a true test of Mr. Advani’s leadership.