Though Bharatiya Janata Party patriarch LK Advani has been sidelined by his party ever since he opposed the candidature of Narendra Modi for the post of prime minister two years ago, insiders said that he played a key role in ending the logjam that had paralysed the Lok Sabha for more than two weeks. Advani is said to have cleared the way by forcing the BJP to accept the Congress demand for an adjournment motion.

Advani is said to have told his senior colleague Kalraj Mishra that the ruling party had failed to engage with the Opposition parties and reach a compromise by following the principle of give and take, officials said. He blamed the government’s obduracy for the impasse.

The veteran leader believed that the government should accept the Opposition's call for a debate about the corruption charges against former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi, even as it persuaded the Congress and other parties to give up their demand for the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, party insiders said.

Resignation offered

The BJP leader began to exert pressure on his party last Monday, angry at the decision of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn the House. He rushed to the chair of Lok Sabha secretary general, Anoop Mishra, with a query. "Advaniji was very angry," said a BJP MP who overheard the conversation. "He said that he wanted to know the rule under which he could be allowed to cite repeated disruptions of House’s proceedings as the reason while surrendering his membership to the Lok Sabha Speaker.”

Later that day Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu and the BJP’s chief whip in Lok Sabha Arjun Ram Meghwal met Advani to attempt to pacify him, party officials said.

However, Advani became even more furious with the course of action the next day, August 11.  When the disruptions continued and the House was adjourned as usual by the Speaker, the former deputy Prime Minister rushed to the chamber of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. “Since Rajnathji was not present, he instructed the official present there to inform him [the Home Minister] that he wanted to see him,” a BJP leader said.

While returning, he met Congress leader Kamal Nath in the lobby and discussed ways to end the repeated disruptions. Later in the day, Advani opened his heart to union minister Kalraj Mishra, holding the government more responsible than the opposition for the logjam in Lok Sabha.

On August 12, the penultimate day of the Monsoon session when the logjam ended, Advani reached Parliament House nearly two hours before the Lok Sabha was to reconvene at 11 am, officials said, adding that he was among the first members to enter the House.

That day, the government held a series of meetings against the backdrop of the party’s most senior member threatening to surrender his membership of the House. It  decided to retract its position of not allowing a debate on the Lalit Modi controversy under a rule that entailed voting and accepting the adjournment motion moved by the Congress.

Lalit Modi affair

The Congress had been demanding the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for allegedly helping the former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi obtain travel documents from the UK, even though he is wanted in India on money laundering charges.

When the debate finally took place on Wednesday, the BJP patriarch, who sat contentedly next to Swaraj on the front row of treasury benches, was seen overcome with emotion on a few occasions. His eyes welled up as the External Affairs Minister tried to put up a rhetorical defence in the face of the accusations against her. He patted Swaraj on the back as she wound up her speech.

The freeing of the logjam over the Lalit Modi controversy might have come too late to allow business to be transacted during the Monsoon session of Parliament, but many believe that the House will now be able to function without obstruction during the next session. As for Advani, the gains, despite being small, will probably embolden him to make his views known to his party in the future, say BJP leaders aware of the development of last few days.