Birthday Special : PM Modi greets Advani, describes him as inspiration

Lal Krishna Advani is an Indian politician and a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Advani served as Minister of Home Affairs in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government from 1998 to 2004.

Additionally, he served as Deputy Prime Minister of India from 2002 to 2004 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was the Leader of the Opposition in the 10th Lok Sabha and 14th Lok Sabha.

Advani began his political career as a volunteer of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation. In 2015 he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honor.

Under Advani, the BJP became the political face of the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign. In the early 1980s, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had begun a movement for the construction of a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Rama at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

Advani embarked on a “Rath Yatra,” or chariot journey, to mobilise karsevaks, or volunteers, to converge upon the Babri Masjid to offer prayers.

This Rath Yatra, undertaken in an air-conditioned van decorated to look like a chariot, began from Somnath in Gujarat and covered a large portion of Northern India until it was stopped by the Chief Minister of Bihar, Laloo Prasad Yadav, on the grounds that it was leading to communal violence.

Prime Minister candidacy

In an interview with a news channel 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. Some of his colleagues were not supportive of his candidacy.

A major factor in favour of Advani was that he had always been the most powerful leader in the BJP with the exception of Vajpayee, who endorsed Advani’s candidacy.

On 2 May 2007, Rajnath Singh stated that: “After Atal there is only Advani. Advani is the natural choice. It is he who should be PM”.

On 10 December 2007, the Parliamentary Board of BJP formally announced that L. K. Advani would be its prime ministerial candidate for the general elections due in 2009.

However, Indian National 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, L. K. 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 Rajnath Singh assured Advani that his concerns about the functioning of the Party would be properly addressed.

Marg Darshak Mandal

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.

Modi Vs Advani

When JP movement was at its peak in mid 1970s with a strong anti-Indira wave, Modi was a caterer and office boy who would adjust microphones for LK Advani, clean stages during rallies and carry water bottles for Vajpayee.

By mid 1980s, he was an event organizer. In early 1990s, he was promoted to become the strategist who organized Rath Yatra for LK Advani & Ekta Yatra for Murli Manohar Joshi.

Even till the late 1990s, Modi was perceived as a “glorified” officeboy & event organizer by the BJP stalwarts

LK Advani’s attitude towards Modi was like that towards a servant and the following anecdote illustrates it pretty well: One fine afternoon in 1995, Keshubhai & Advani, sitting in the backseat were being chauffeured in a car with Modi sitting in the front seat (adjacent to the driver).

When they spotted Govindacharya (another BJP member) on the road, the driver stopped the car to pick up Govindacharya and in turn asked Modi to get down to make space. With surprise, Modi looked at Advani expecting him to intervene (or atleast try to adjust in the backseat by allowing Modi to sit with him), but Advani turned his face away and gazed at the window, pretending to be unaware of the situation. Feeling humiliated, Modi got down from the car and walked all the way to the office.

The above anecdote is just one of the several instances of the attitude of senior BJP leaders towards their younger colleagues. Inspite of such attitude from Advani, Modi had always respected him for his age & experience and always sought his blessings.

Whenever someone from BJP praised Modi & proposed his name for national level, Advani would laugh and brush it aside saying Modi is still young & there are many other senior leaders who can be considered for such top posts.

Now if such a person who was perceived as office boy rises purely based on his hard work & merit and becomes a contender for PM post in the party, it is bound to create discomfort among the stalwarts who considered themselves experienced and had taken their positions for granted.

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