By MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN
The problem with gerontocratic tribe in politics is their fixation to power. The more the aged the more attached they become to power. This habit has no political barriers.
The very thought of voluntary retirement is something of an anathema for them. They don’t retire. Either they are nudged out or forced to retire under one or other circumstances including the health ground.
Way back in the name of splitting Congress, the old guard among the Congress like Nijalingppa of Karnataka, Kamaraj Nadar of Tamilnadu, Sanjiv Reddy of Andhra Pradesh, Atulya Ghosh of West Bengal, S K Patil the strong man of Bombay Congress, were nudged out by Mrs. Indira Gandhi. This incidentally spelled the end of the era of dominant regional leaders in Congress.
Sonia Gandhi staged a coup of sorts to take over reins of the party from P V Narasimha Rao, the former Prime Minister.
This has incidentally proved to the undoing of the party four decades later in 2014 loksabha election, under the regime of daughter in law and the grandson of Indira Gandhi, in 2014 loksabha election, when the party could not open account in several states, mainly because of the absence of powerful regional leaders.
Health forced the former BJP Prime Minister to go into retirement, almost on a permanent basis to the extent that he is practically forgotten.
His comrade in arms, octogenarian Lal Krishna Advani, the former Deputy Prime Minister, often described as the Prime Minister in waiting, found himself sidelined out by a younger colleague and onetime political disciple Narendra Modi, dashing the political dream of Advani rather permanently.
Advani stomached his pride, even as the party named Modi as the prime ministerial candidate despite Advani making his displease clear. He sulked for while but none bothered.
His own loyalists like Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar Venkaiah Naidu and others, switched over to the Modi camp. Advani’s effort to seek a constituency outside Gujarat was also torpedoed and was forced to contest from his home constituency in Gujarat. He had openly expressed his reservations for giving Modi the credit for the spectacular electoral victory. On the eve of assumption of office by Narendra Modi, sufficient hints were thrown that Advani would like to become Speaker of Loksabha. That also did not materialise.
Modi sprang surprise by keeping Advani and fellow octogenarian Murali Manohar Joshi out of the union ministry by making 78 years as the cut off point for inclusion in the ministry. Joshi earlier had the humiliation of losing his home constituency Varanasi, from where Modi chose to successfully contest.
The senior leaders including Advani and M M Joshi, appear oblivious to the fact that a generation change is on under the Modi dispensation and newer brigade has begun to take over and that the time has come for senior brigade to move over in favour of younger leaders.
Enough hints had been thrown right from the day Modi rose to the top in the party, Advani should pack up, stay in background to assume the emeritus status and guide the juniors to lead the party and the government.
But Advani for reasons not clear has not read the writing on the wall and get appears to be persisting with political career, which has few or nil options, instead of putting in his paper. So has been the case of Murali Manohar Joshi. Jaswant Singhs plan to reenter the political life, was blocked by the party and electorate respectively in his home constituency of Baramer in Rajasthan. First he was denied the ticket by the party and the electorate did not take kindly to his attempt to contest as independent.
Nearer home in Karnataka, there is a classic example of senior politician, whose craving for office has not dimmed despite the age. Krishna is now over 80. In his long political career spanning over more than four decades, there is no political office, which he has not held so far.
He has been member of the State Assembly and Council, Loksabha and Rajyasabha, Union Minister thrice, Speaker of the Assembly, Deputy Chie f Minister and Chief Minister of Karnataka, Governor of Maharashtra and President of KPCC Karnataka.
In the UPA-II government under Manmohan Singh, Krishna was made a Minister for Foreign Affairs, a prestigious post not held by any Karnataka politician so far but his performance was nothing to crow about and he was politely asked to quit.
He might have held several political offices but his contribution to the state or his home district Mandya has almost been next to nothing.In the 2014 loksabha election, he could not get the Congress candidate the film star Ramya elected. In his home district, he is known to head a faction of party men opposed to another film star Ambarish.
But still Krishna had sought the party nomination to Rajyasabha and is miffed because it was denied to him. He is sulking quietly and his supporters and friends are making noise over the “injustice” done to Krishna. The thought of hanging gloves for political career has not occurred to him as yet but the party high command has nudged him out.
Jyoti Basu the former Chief Minister of West Bengal, has been the only exception to craving for power among senior politicians. He chose to quit on his when the going was good as the Chief Minister of West Bengal. In 1996, he spurned the opportunity to become the Prime Minister of United Democratic Front as per the wishes of the party. In default Devegowda was catapulted as the Prime Minister, which he could not even manage for twelve months.
(Posted on June 24 , 2014 @ 9:00pm)
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