Leadership by absence

L K Advani’s ultimate challenge

You don’t need to read L K Advani’s autobiography to know that he is the tallest leader in active politics today. You don’t even need to note the thickness and weight of the bestselling My Country, My Life to get that point. There is no doubt that he is a great leader.

But there is also no doubt that at eighty, he is too old to lead India into the twenty-first century.

It is not about Mr Advani’s mental and physical fitness. It’s about representation. The median age of India is around 25. By 2025, the median Indian will only be 30. At a time when technology, globalisation, social mobility and economic development are reducing the generation gap to a handful of years, Mr Advani could well be from another country.

All this is not to say that Mr Advani shouldn’t be the BJP’s next prime ministerial candidate. He probably should, especially if that party thinks he could lead it back into power. Rather, it is about what he should do now, and if the BJP were to return to power, what he should do when he ascends to the prime-ministership. The single most important task for Mr Advani is also the hardest one in Indian politics: succession planning. For man who has dedicated his adult life for the nation, the ultimate challenge is to ensure that the nation has good, stable leadership after is no longer on the political stage. As both an ardent nationalist and an astute politician, Mr Advani should know that.

6 thoughts on “Leadership by absence”

  1. Advani is 80! Are you sure? Wow. he certainly doesnt look 80.

    Indian politics is a geriatrics society. There is some merit in Rahul Gandhi’s call for younger politicians in the Union Cabinet but the problem is that beyond a handful, most youth leaders and young politicians are out and out thugs.

    As a 25 year old myself, I feel that there are hardly young politicians that are capable of galvanising the youth of the country. Without getting into a debate about his politics, what India needs is an emerging/young/youth leader with the charisma and personality of Barak Obama.

  2. There is no doubt that he is a great leader

    No doubt? . Have you seen the documentary ‘Ram Ke Naam’ made by Anand Pavwardhan.

    It exposes them. Criminals – politicians using the religion card all the time.

  3. I find myself wishing he was so tall he konked his head on the door of the RamRath and put himself out of action for a few months in 1992. Would have saved the country a lot of bloodshed and violence.


  4. Well, If you take the average age of any non-Gandhi prime minister it will come to be above 70 anyway. e.g. Morarji Desai, Deve Gowda, Narsimha Rao, Vajpayee.

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