Former deputy prime minister and BJP patriarch LK Advani is "extremely upset" about the way he was dropped from the BJP's Lok Sabha seat ahead of next month's General Elections 2019. What appears to be the end of the road in electoral politics for Advani, the BJP had on Thursday replaced him with party president Amit Shah in Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency. So far, Advani has won from the Gandhinagar seat for six consecutive times.
"Not getting to be in Lok Sabha is not the issue, but the manner in which the denial was done was disrespectful... No big leader contacted him," a source close to the BJP veteran told NDTV.
With veterans such as LK Advani, BC Khanduri, Hukumdeo Yadav and Karia Munda being dropped from their Lok Sabha seats, it seems that the BJP may have decided to ease out several of its old guards from electoral politics after keeping them out of government by introducing an age bar of 75 years.
In anticipation of the party leadership's move, senior leaders like Kalraj Mishra and Bhagat Singh Koshyari had announced their unwillingness to contest the coming Lok Sabha polls. Other leaders who refused to retire voluntarily have been dropped from the list.
The fate of another party veteran, Murli Manohar Joshi, who had won from Kanpur in 2014, remains uncertain as the party is yet to announce its candidate from the seat. It is also unclear whether Sumitra Mahajan, the 75-year-old Lok Sabha Speaker, would be allotted a seat in 2019 elections. The party has not included her name in the list for her home state, Madhya Pradesh.
Meanwhile, BJP's decision to not give a ticket to Advani has received wide condemnations from across party lines who accused the Modi government of treating the veteran leader in a "painful" and "shameful" manner.
Advani, the 91-year-old BJP leader, was first elected to Parliament as a Rajya Sabha member in 1970 and has been the most experienced parliamentarian. Credited for orchestrating the BJP's rise to a pre-eminent position in the late 80s and 90s along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee after it won only two Lok Sabha seats in 1984.
However, Advani, along with Joshi was moved out of the BJP's highest decision-making body, Parliamentary Board, in 2014 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the party to victory and Shah was made its president. He was made a member of Margdarshak Mandal (Group of mentors), a body which has never met so far.
The senior BJP leader did not make any representation to stake a claim for Gandhinagar seat before the BJP observers. The BJP veteran won from Gandhinagar for the first time in 1991 and retained the constituency in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. In 1996 he did not contest, citing the Babri Masjid demolition case against him.