On 23 April, the Gandhinagar constituency in Gujarat will vote in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart LK Advani has held the seat since 1998, winning five consecutive elections. But this year, the 91-year-old leader will not contest elections—in his stead, Amit Shah, the BJP national president, will stand from Gandhinagar in his first Lok Sabha elections. The end of Advani’s electoral career is in many ways a culmination of a journey that began in 2013—with the BJP’s old guard having to make way for younger leaders like Narendra Modi.
In 2013, Modi’s elevation as the face and leader of the BJP’s 2014 Lok Sabha campaign generated considerable controversy, with a section of the party’s leadership threatening to block his potential prime ministerial candidacy and even come out in open rebellion. Advani was among the leaders who expressed dissatisfaction with the path paved for Modi’s emergence. Through its nominees in the BJP’s national leadership, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh diffused the tension, quelled the rebellion and effectively accelerated the demise of LK Advani’s political career. In the following extract from “Stratagems and Spoils,” our July 2013 cover story, Poornima Joshi argues that the RSS enabled Modi’s rise to power. She traced the RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat’s efforts to engineer a generational shift within the BJP and strengthen the Sangh’s control over its political progeny.
The rumblings began just before the storm, and the wise men predicted its arrival with uncanny precision.