New Delhi: Amid speculation that veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi may contest the next General Election, top BJP leaders say it is too early to make any such assumption or shortlist candidates for the polls scheduled almost a year henceforth.
According to The Tribune political buzz around the issue gained ground following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reported meeting with Gujarat veteran Advani (90), apparently to ask him to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
While the speculation is contrary to the 75-year age bar set by Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for contesting elections, a top BJP leader recently told The Tribune that it was too early to start talking of candidates for the 2019 elections. “And in any case who knows how situation will pan in a year’s time,” he said on the sidelines of a lunch hosted by Shah on completion of four years of the BJP government at the Centre.
BJP leaders also claim the PM was in “regular touch with the veterans” and that Advani could be pushing for a ticket for his daughter Pratibha. “However, the top leadership is more inclined towards his son Jayant, who is keen on full-time politics and had campaigned for his father in Gandhinagar along with his sister,” a leader says.
Advani, who led the front against Modi being given the charge of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, won Gandhinagar seat but has since been marginalised, relegated to the “margdarshak mandal” along with Joshi (84). But with the Opposition getting together to mount an anti-BJP front, Shah may as well be looking at change of tack, preferring winability and respectability over the age factor. After all, he did relax the age bar for BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for Karnataka elections BS Yeddyurappa (75) and to an extent for PK Dhumal, who was 73 years old when Himachal polled, last year.
This apart, the “new BJP” under Modi and Shah is also struggling with another set of perceptions — of ignoring its veterans. It goes without saying that the “margdarshak mandal” has not held a single meeting since its inception in 2014. Another viewpoint is that if the BJP and allies fall short of the halfway mark in 2019, the PM and Shah will not find a helping hand from anywhere. And this is where benefits of having “acceptable-to-all” leaders like Advani and Joshi will come in.
Preferring winability over age bar?
- With the Opposition getting together to mount an anti-BJP front, BJP chief Amit Shah may be looking at change of tack, preferring winability and respectability over the age factor.
- He had relaxed the age bar for BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for Karnataka elections BS Yeddyurappa (75) and to an extent for PK Dhumal, who was 73 years old when Himachal Pradesh polled, last year.
- LK Advani, 90, had won Gandhinagar seat in 2014 but has since been marginalised, relegated to the ‘margdarshak mandal’ along with Murli Manohar Joshi, 84.