It is natural that L.K. Advani is the prime ministerial candidate of BJP. The party has done a sensible thing by unanimously announcing it and the leader'swide acceptability was in display when all the constituents of the NDA endorsed it instantaneously.
Advani is lucky for BJP. The party has won many electoral battles under him. The failure of the UPA to settle its contradictions and leadership predilections make the timing excellent.
For long Advani is India'sprime minister in waiting. His followers looked upon him as the leader who will finally correct the aberrations in the secular polity.
From the grassroots Advani rose to the top by sheer hard work, exceptional political acumen, engaging policy articulation, strategic planning and masterly grip over organisation.
He is a tough-minded optimist. From the fringes he nurtured the BJP to the centre stage and he charioted a great ideological evolution in political campaigns. He offered an alternative approach, canvassed support for a new idea and pioneered a fresh debate that changed the style and substance of Indian political formulations. In this he earned a large fan following among the right intelligentsia. He is both the darling and whipping boy of the media. No other contemporary politician encountered and survived as much controversy as Advani. He could get away with the storm he raised because of his clear thinking, convincing logic and the big success he achieved. That the BJP has emerged an equal and effective alternative to the Congress is a measure of his accomplishment.
The year-long speculation about reservations within the parivar on Advani'sleadership had to end. The Jinnah episode eroded his authority. It saddened his admirers. But it did not diminish his clout. As leader of opposition Advani is the obvious choice. He is the most suited to give a credible challenge to the government and unite the party to gear up for a battle ahead.
After Vajpayee he enjoys the highest stature in the party. He is its real builder. He has a vision and a mission, which boost him as the leader India awaits.
(Courtesy: Face-off Economic Times, December 14, 2007)