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B'day special: L K Advani, the sidelined 'patriarch' who built BJP brick by brick

New Delhi: Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has been synonymous with two names -- Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani -- since its inception. Out of these two, it was Lal Krishna Advani who was

Raj Singh [ Updated: November 08, 2015 7:37 IST ]
b day special l k advani the sidelined patriarch who built
b day special l k advani the sidelined patriarch who built bjp brick by brick

New Delhi: Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has been synonymous with two names -- Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani -- since its inception. Out of these two, it was Lal Krishna Advani who was always seen as an organization man who connected well with the cadre and made the party brick by brick.

It was Advani who always formulated the ideological positioning of the party on key issues. Everybody knows that the Ramjanmabhoomi movement that changed the political discourse in India was a great master stroke by Advani that laid the foundation for the emergence of the BJP as an alternative to the Congress at the national stage.

Advani may have lost his numero uno position in the party in recent times but his contribution to the BJP can't be overlooked by anybody. He would always be remembered as the chief architect of BJP.

Today When Advani is facing stiff challenge from Modi supporters in the war of supremacy; it's time to have a look at Advani's personal life and political journey.

Lal Krishnachand Advani was born in Karachi (Now in Pakistan) on Nov 8, 1927. He belonged to a Hindu Sindhi family and his parents were Kishanchand D Advani and Gyani Devi.

He completed his early schooling from Saint Patrick's High School, Karachi, and then enrolled at D G National College in Hyderabad Sindh. He graduated in Law from Government Law College, Bombay University. He completed his Master's in Sociology from Mumbai University.

Advani started his career as a teacher, teaching English, history, math and science to high school students at Model High School in Karachi.

In 1947, he was elected as the Secretary of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

After partition, he moved over to India and joined Bharatiya Jana Sangh, founded by Syama Prasad Mookerjee. In 1957, he was asked to assist Atal Behari Vajpayee as his secretary. Atal Behari Vajpayee was already an MP by then.

In 1965, he married Kamla Advani. The couple has two children -- Pratibha and Jayant.

In 1970, he entered the Rajya Sabha for the first time. In 1972, he became the president of Bhartiya Jan sangh.

He played an important role in fight against the emergency imposed by Indira  Gandhi and was arrested in Bangalore. He was made Information and broadcasting minister when Janata Partry, a conglomerate of all major national parties barring communists, formed the govt in 1977. He continued as I&B Minister till 1979.

The issue of dual membership resulted in the split of Janata party and those belonging to erstwhile Jan Sangh, including Advani, moved out and formed a new party-  Bhartiya Janata Party.

Advani became the president of BJP in 1986 and introduced the concept of hard-line Hindutva as the core political ideology of the party. The rest, as we say, is history.

When he took over as the president of the BJP in 1986, the party was in tatters. It had only 2 members in the Lok Sabha as the Congress party led by Rajiv Gandhi had swept the general elections in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination. Advani had his task cut out.

Advani realized that Congress party under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi was taking a soft-Hindutva political line on issues like Ram temple in Ayodhya and Shahbano case.

He thought that the Congress party was trying to encroach upon a territory that actually belonged to BJP, given the fact that the party was attached to RSS, a pro-Hindu socio-cultural organization, with the proverbial umbilical cord.

For Advani, it was an opportunity to redefine the agenda of BJP that could help it stand apart from other opposition parties and provide the party with the moral and ideological ammunition to challenge the political hegemony of the ruling Congress party.

And the result was what we better know as the advent of BJP's brand of Hindutva that Advani introduced with an eye on grabbing power at the centre.

He decided to embark upon a Toyota 'rath Yatra' in 1990, from Somnath to Ayodhya, to create awareness among Hindus about the need to liberate the Ram temple at Ayodhya that was allegedly demolished by the Mughal invader Babur in 16th century.

The Rath yatra was stopped and Advani was arrested by Lalu Prasad in Bihar but by this time, Advani's  Rath Yatra  had succeeded in setting a new agenda in Indian politics.

Before Advani's Rath Yatra, Indian polity was divided between Pro- and anti- Congress forces but after this yatra, Indian polity got divided between pro- and anti-BJP political forces.

Advani's Rath yatra mesmerized the Indian middle class, the core of BJP's support base. The BJP moved ahead by leap and bounds. From 2 seats in 1984 to 88 seats in 1989 and then to 120 seats in 1991. In 1991, BJP for the first time emerged as the main opposition party in the parliament.

In 1996, BJP's tally reached to 161 seats and the first BJP government under Atal Behari Vajpayee's leadership was formed although it lasted for just 13 days.

Although Vajpayee became the Prime Minister of BJP-led govt, it was Advani who had crafted the entire electoral strategy that had really clicked.

Advani had to concede the leadership to Vajpayee because his hardline Hindutva image was not conducive for winning over more and more allies that was necessary to touch the magic figure in Lok Sabha.

The sacrifice of Advani worked as the BJP succeeded in forming the govt in 1998 that lasted for 13 months and then in 1999 that lasted till 2004 when BJP finally lost the electoral battle to a rejuvenated Congress under Sonia Gandhi's leadership.

Advani was first made the Home Minister and later on promoted as the Deputy Prime Minister in Vajpayee's Cabinet.

In December 2006, Advani stated that as the Leader of the Opposition in a parliamentary democracy, he considered himself the prime ministerial candidate for the general elections, ending on 16 May 2009.

In December 2007, the Parliamentary Board of BJP formally announced that LK Advani would be its prime ministerial candidate for the general elections due in 2009.

However, Congress and its allies won the 2009 general elections, allowing incumbent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to continue in office. Following the defeat in the elections, LK Advani paved the way for Sushma Swaraj to become the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

Advani unexpectedly resigned from all his posts in the BJP on 10 June 2013 following the appointment of Narendra Modi as the head of the electoral campaign of BJP for the 2014 elections on 9 June 2013.

He rued that the BJP was no longer the "same idealistic party" created by Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Deendayal Upadhyaya, Nanaji Deshmukh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The BJP senior committee rejected his resignation on 10 June 2013. Ultimately, Advani withdrew his resignation on 11 June 2013 after the then BJP president Rajnath Singh him that his concerns about the functioning of the party would be properly addressed.

In 2014, Advani was dropped from the BJP Parliamentary Board and included in the Marg Darshak Mandal of the BJP along with Murli Manohar Joshi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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