Yes I know that everyone is asking who comes after Vajpayee, but I don’t think that is in any doubt. It will be Advani. Yes I know that BJP has a strong second line of leadership and there is no reason in theory why it shouldn’t be someone from there and yada yada yada, but that is because your theory isn’t looking at the mechanics of the succession. Briefly, there are two possibilities.
If he is dead then the BJP will realise that he can’t be the Prime Minister So they will look for a new one. But it is Indian tradition to treat the death of a leader as a huge crisis and the end of the era and of course that won’t be the time to engage in a highly divisive search for a sucessor among the second generation. So it will be Advani by consensus. Of course, if they had searched for a leader before Vajpayee’s death, there wouldn’t have been such a huge crisis in the first place, but we are talking of us Indians here. Thousands of years back Yudhishtira figured out that the most amazing thing in the world was that though everyone is destined for death, we behave as if we are immortal. Now the most amazing thing is that though we figured out the truth thousands of years back we don’t do anything about it. Vajpayee lives.
If he lives then there are two possibilites.
He is incapacitated.
Remember that he is suffering from Parkinson’s. It is an irreversible and degenerative disease. As it is, he forgets things. That can easily be put down to his age, but as time goes by it will get worse, he will be less and less able to function, and sometime we will notice. By the time we notice, a seamless transition would have taken place. Advani would have already become the de facto Prime Minister and it will be just a question of announcing his “retirement” and swearing in Advani to complete the formality.
He genuinely retires.
Yes I know, and cows can fly over the moon. But let’s just consider that possibility for argument’s sake. What he should do is announce his retirement perhaps 3 years into his term, tell the party to elect a new leader and go to the polls under him (or her, not to be unfair to Sushma Swaraj) Of course, apart from the massive wailing from the party that will ensue, do you think they will elect a second generation leader like Pramod Mahajan or.. say Arun Jaitely? And then do you think other senior ministers like Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Ram Naik will serve under him? Look I know that those three are no-hopers as far as Premiership is concerned. But they won’t serve under a junior guy either. So it will be Advani again.
That’s why the real question is, after Advani who?