New Delhi: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s antipathy for former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani may see forced en-mass retirement of several veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.
The newly-elected BJP president Rajnath Singh is expected to unveil the RSS-sponsored strategy of denying posts in the party and nominations to the 2014 general elections to all leaders above the age of 75, party sources said.
The strategy conceived by Bhagwat ostensibly to promote the younger generation was originally supposed to be implemented by his close confidante Nitin Gadkari upon his re-election as the BJP president for the second term. However revelations about Gadkari’s alleged involvement in several corruption cases and Advani’s unyielding stand that Gadkari’s re-election would harm BJP’s prospects resulted in Gadkari’s resignation on January 22 and the election of RSS’ second-choice Rajnath Singh.
Singh, to start with, is expected to drop Advani and his close associates from the party’s apex decision making body parliamentary board. This is to be followed by denial of nominations of all leaders who would complete 75 before the next general elections which is barely 14 months away.
This, if implemented, would mean forced retirements of Advani (85), former BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi (79), former federal ministers Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha, both 75, Shanta Kumar (78), Ram Jethmalani (89), Dr. C.P. Thakur (81) and the incumbent Lok Sabha deputy speaker Karia Munda (76).
The move would also virtually end Advani’s ambition to become the prime minister in the post 2014 victory the party expects at the centre. Advani was projected as the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s prime ministerial candidate in 2009 general elections.
He was subsequently forced to resign even as leader of opposition within nine months of Bhagwat taking over as chief of the RSS and the appointment of his handpicked candidate Gadkari as the BJP president in December 2009.
The retirement of seniors would enable RSS and Bhagwat (62) to control the party and its government at the centre since he would be dealing with his contemporaries or juniors. Only M. Venkaiah Naidu, a year senior to him, would be around, while all others including Rajnath Singh (61) are younger to him.
The list includes names of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi (62), who is expected to be projected as the prime ministerial candidate and Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, the incumbent leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively. Both of them are 60, while Gadkari at 55 is relatively young.