Vir Sanghvi's assessment of L.K. Advani's political career starts with some positives:
[L.K. Advani] is a man of integrity and stature who believes in old style politics when people were expected to work only for ideology. In Advani’s world-view, deal-making, the buying of MP’s and corruption all have no place in politics.
Nor is he motivated by power — unlike most of today’s politicians. Nobody whose chief motivation is power would have stuck with the Jan Sangh-BJP for so many decades when it looked as though the party would never come to power.
One gets the sense that Sanghvi's heart is not really in it, because each of these assertions is open to dispute: for example, the stuff about ideology is contradicted by Sanghvi himself later in the article (see below). Similarly, the stuff about Advani's alleged antipathy to deal-making can be countered by the Karnataka example.
But, Sanghvi follows up that trickle of positives with a deluge of negatives. Here's a quick sample:
Since the end of the Vajpayee era, the story of Advani’s leadership of the BJP has been the story of a man in search of an ideology.
Eager to shed the hardline image but without any core beliefs of his own, Advani looked for ways in which to project himself as a national leader. At every step along the way, he miscalculated.
He believed, for instance, that the BJP would win the 2004 election and that Vajpayee would step down in 2006, installing him as Prime Minister. In fact, the BJP lost.
Then, he believed that Sonia Gandhi would be PM and he could play the Indian alternative to her foreign leader. Sonia destroyed that calculation by installing Manmohan Singh. Advani miscalculated again by reckoning that Singh would be regarded as a puppet and promptly launched vicious personal attacks on him. In fact, Singh was widely respected and Advani’s abuse did the BJP more harm than good.
Next, he played the Pakistan card. Bizarrely, Advani believes that anyone who is soft on Pakistan is regarded as a liberal by Indians.
So, while during the Vajpayee government he had taken the credit for scuppering the Agra Summit, he now went around claiming that it had been his idea to invite Musharraf.
Advani had failed to learn his lesson when, during the 2004 election campaign, he had made the outrageous claim that Indian Muslims would vote for the BJP because the government had improved relations with Pakistan.
Indian Muslims angrily objected to the suggestion that they were pro-Pakistan.
But once he became Leader of the Opposition, Advani once again played the Pakistan card, visiting that country and showering MA Jinnah with praise. This won Advani no fans among Indian Muslim (who have no special affection for Jinnah) and damaged his credibility among liberals who wondered how far he would go in repudiating his past only to change his image. And of course, the RSS was outraged.