Thursday, April 25, 2024

Advani as Bharat Ratna


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Lal Krishna Advani, in the sunset of his life, must feel relieved that he has not been forgotten. It was out of the blue that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Bharat Ratna for the 96-year-old leader. While admitting that Advani is a controversial figure, his good qualities deserve adulation. When most politicians of today are after power and pelf, Advani is made of a different mettle. His commitment to the cause — of turning the BJP into a powerhouse from being a party with just two MPs in 1984 — was unique.
While Atal Behari Vajpayee was the face of the BJP, its growth into a strong political establishment was engineered at the organizational level by Advani. His Rath Yatra changed the course of national politics. It culminated in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The massive riots that killed over 2000 people, followed by the Gujarat riots that killed another 2000, were dark moments in the nation’s history. Advani cannot escape the blame. There’s blood on his hands. In vertically dividing the Indian society on communal lines, Advani played the lead role in association with various arms of the Sangh Parivar. While it was Advani’s commitment to the cause that energized him, the RSS changed its tactics and eventually denied him the top political badge – the PM’s post. It first rubbished him over his praise of Mohammad Ali Jinnah during the veteran’s Pakistan trip. Alongside, Advani’s protégé Narendra Modi was projected as the future PM. From then on, the two fell apart. One of the first acts of Modi as PM in 2014 was to relegate Advani, MM Joshi etc to insignificant advisory roles. He did so via the formation of a Margdarshak Mandal for leaders who crossed the age of 75. Very little was heard of Advani after this. He was resigned to fate, maintained a dignified silence and avoided the limelight.
Advani led a simple life. Even while he functioned as deputy prime minister, Advani used his rickety old vehicle for his personal use on Delhi’s roads. He was unassuming and gelled well with the rank and file. He steered clear of corruption though some of his family members in later years made wealth via real estate deals. No one could raise an accusing finger against Advani in this respect. As home minister, he was outstanding and had shades of Iron Man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Advani watched the 10 years of the NDA-BJP-Modi rule from the sidelines. Silence was golden for all those in the Margdarshak Mandal. They were aware the party and the nation were caught in a Modi aura. All things considered, LD Advani deserves a Bharat Ratna.


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