Ahmedabad: Veteran BJP leader LK Advani was on Thursday made to bow out of the electoral contest by the BJP as it fielded party president Amit Shah from Gandhinagar, the seat that the 91-year-old party stalwart has won six times.
Advani had first contested from Gandhinagar in 1991 on the suggestion of Narendra Modi after he had completed his nationwide rath yatra in favour of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Modi had even accompanied Advani when he filed his nomination papers.
That the Modi’s BJP was sending a message with the list was clear from the fact that only one name was announced from Gujarat – that of Amit Shah in place of Advani.
To political pundits, the decision has sent two clear signals – one that as Advani himself did not declare himself his retirement from electoral politics means he has been made to retire, and two, the party by replacing him with Shah has appointed his political heir.
According to party sources, Shah’s decision to contest from Gandhinagar will help boost the morale of the workers and it will affect to nearby constituencies in North Gujarat as well.
As soon as the news came out, party workers were in a jubilant mood across Gandhinagar and started bursting firecrackers.
This would be his maiden Lok Sabha fight, barely 21 months after he entered the Rajya Sabha in July 2017.
“Out of the total 26 Lok Sabha seats, only one name is declared and that is Amit Shah. Another news is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will contest from UP’s Varansi and it suggests that he would not contest from Vadodara. Party wanted either Modi or Amit Shah should contest Lok Sabha polls from Gujarat to keep up the party’s spirit,’’ said a party insider.
The Gandhinagar seat has been a strong BJP bastion. In the 2017 assembly polls, out of the seven constituencies which falls under Gandhinagar LS seat, BJP had won five seats while two had gone to Congress.
Amit Shah had contested from Naranpura, which also falls under Gandhinagar. In 2014 Lok Sabha Polls, Advani had won this seat with 4.83 lakh votes.
“At a time when BJP plans to retain all the 26 LS seats it won in 2014 polls, Shah’s decision is significant. Even when LK Advani was contesting from Gandhinagar, it was Amit Shah who ensured smooth victory for party veteran. Shah replacing him sends the message across to the nation that he is the heir to the legacy of the former deputy PM. This helps the national narrative,’’ said a party leader.
Last week, sources in the BJP said that a senior leader from the RSS had visited Advani at his residence and informed him that the party would not be asking him to contest polls, officially citing the 91-year-old’s age.
There was some conjecture within the party as to whether Advani’s son, Jayant, would contest from the seat. However, the option was eventually ruled out, said party leaders.