The BJP has dropped senior leader Lal Krishna Advani from the party's first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019. The party's central election committee has decided to field Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, a seat from where Advani won six times in the past. Advani, a veteran BJP leader, has been fighting elections from Gandhinagar since 1998, a time when Shah used to be his poll manager. However, there is no clarity if Advani will be given ticket from some other Lok Sabha seat or he has been kept out this time.
As per reports, Shah was chosen for Gandhinagar as his previous Assembly constituency, Naranpura, is located in Ahmedabad, and it also falls in the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency. He won from Naranpur before becoming a Rajya Sabha member after 2012. The BJP's state unit also wanted either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Shah to contest from the seat this time. The BJP had sent observers on March 16 to seek the opinion of party workers and leaders in Gandhinagar, and most of them favoured Shah, party observer Nimaben Acharya told PTI.Meanwhile, Advani's personal secretary Deepak Chopra told the agency that neither had the party approached him nor had he approached the party so far.
Advani served as Union home minister and deputy prime minister during the Atal Behari Vajpayee government. He had won from Gandhinagar for the first time in 1991, and retained the seat in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. He has been instrumental in the BJP's rise, especially in the late 80s and 90s along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee. During his time, the BJP grew from just two seats in 1984 to a full majority government in 2014.
He along with other senior leaders like Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh were moved out of the BJP's core decision-making body, Parliamentary Board, in 2014 to a so-called 'Margdarshak Mandal' (group of mentors), a body which has never held a meeting since then.
During an exclusive interview with AajTak, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said Advani was the party's margdarshak (a guiding light) and would continue to be so. He said that Advani had crossed 90 years of age, and the party had now decided to give others a chance.
Meanwhile, the Congress party has been quick in its reaction over Advani's exclusion from the candidates' list. "First Shri Lal Krishna Advani was forcefully sent to 'Marg Darshak Mandal and now his parliamentary constituency has been snatched. When Modi Ji does not respect elders, then why will he respect the people's trust? Get rid of BJP, save the country," Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.