By all accounts, through all the curtained drama that preceded the election of the BJP president on Wednesday, Advani had outlined his resistance to Gadkariís re-election on two fundamental counts: because there are serious corruption charges against him, and because he represents the RSSís micro-management, as distinct from guidance, of the BJP. For these reasons, Advani had become, and was seen to be, the rallying point for the opposition to Gadkari in the BJP. Arguably, on both counts, Advani has fairly impressive credentials. He famously resigned from the 10th Lok Sabha after being charged by the CBI in the hawala case, vowing not to fight another election till he was absolved of the charges; having revised the line on Jinnah during his trip to Pakistan in 2005, he refused to buckle under the RSS reaction at home, even preferring to step down as party president.
Rajnath Singh does not start his second tenure with a clean slate, and he is burdened by his own uninspiring record, but circumstances have conspired to give him a significant choice: as party president, he can either build on the tentative assertion of his party against the organisation that is its back-seat driver ó or not. Of course, as he works out a new balance, or treads an older path, he must also stanch the partyís bleeding in Karnataka, steer the party through assembly elections in 2013 and brace for a possible Narendra Modi takeover before 2014.