20th July 2017 – The suspense on the name of the 14th President of India ended by early evening, when Shri Ram Nath Kovind, ex legal counsel for the Central government and Ex Bihar governor, took the ticket to Rashtrapati Bhavan with a thumping majority of over 66% votes, pummelling the poster girl of the opposition camp, ex Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar soundly. On 25th July, the illustrious lawyer from DAV College, Kanpur will take oath as the 14th President of India, thus achieving an astounding triplet of a nationalist President, a nationalist Prime Minister and a nationalist Chief Minister of the largest and one of the important states of India (Soon to be joined by a Nationalist VP).
However, while the elections were being conducted, a photo of a man putting his voter’s slip in the ballot box captured the eyes of almost any serious social media buff, inviting memes and sighs simultaneously. For once, his face evokes pity, and we feel really sad for him, for he was one of the building blocks of the nationalist surge that has enveloped the Indian democracy, by the name of Bharatiya Janata Party.
At a time when the cause of Indian nationalism rules the roost [at least in the Central Government] , one does feel a bit sad on the plight of the man, who was instrumental in making these days possible. That man is ex Deputy Prime Minister of India, and one of the founding fathers of Bharatiya Janata Party, Lal Krishna Advani, and what follows is how despite being an influential kingmaker, he was reduced to the penury he faces today.
Born on 8th November 1927, Tuesday, to a well off business oriented family in Karachi, Sindh [then part of British India] . Educated in some of the best colleges of Karachi at that time, Advani joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as a pracharak , when barely 15. He had to relocate with his family to India following the brutal partition, where he completed his studies, and pursued a degree in the Bachelor of Law course [LL.B.] at Government Law College, Bombay[now Mumbai] University.
His rapport with Hindu nationalists increased slowly but steadily, and soon enough, at a young age of 24, he was one of the founding members of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, a nationalist outfit founded by an ex Cabinet Minister and devout Hindu nationalist, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, who later sacrificed his life to the cause of making Kashmir an integral part of India.
With as faithful an accomplice as Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani soon climbed up the political ladders to Bharatiya Jan Sangh, becoming the President in 1973 during an executive party meeting at Kanpur, then the Minister for Information and Broadcasting in the government formed post Emergency from 1977-1980. When Bharatiya Janata Party was formed following a split in the Janata Party owing to ideological differences, he was anointed as the General Secretary from 1980-1986. It was his iconic Rath Yatra that propelled one of the biggest movements of Hindu nationalism in the history of independent India, the Ram Mandir movement, which culminated in the destruction of the Babri Masjid, built on the site of the Ram Janmbhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya on 6th December 1992.
This was not all. Advani was also elected as the Minister of Home Affairs during the first successful, though controversial tenure of the BJP led NDA government . He was also the Deputy Prime Minister of the NDA government from 2002 to 2004. With such credentials in his kitty, and being the second in command, this man certainly deserved better, right?
Wait you could be wrong!
Though the picture of LK Advani putting his vote for the President of India looks pitiful, most of it is to due to his own karma, which has come back to bite him. To be truthful, Lal Krishna Advani is paying for his misdeeds of the past, which have reduced him to the brouhaha he is being subjected to. As such we shouldn’t feel sorry for Mr. L K Advani, whose thirst for power harmed him more than doing him good.
How is it so?
Remember the point where I mentioned how he became the Bharatiya Jana Sangh President in 1973? It turns out, that wasn’t without scooping in some dirty tricks up the sleeve. The very first thing that he did after becoming the Party President was to remove the very folks who were instrumental in making the party itself, for example the way he removed Balraj Madhok unceremoniously for alleged anti party activities.
In case you don’t know who Balraj Madhok is, he is one of the think tanks behind the establishment of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh itself, a founding father of a stature much bigger than that of Advani. A refugee from Gujranwala, he wasn’t very fond of the apparent apathy Advani and Vajpayee showed towards the mysterious deaths of Dr. Mukherjee, and Deendayal Upadhyay, another bigwig of the BJS. On objecting to it, he was expelled from the party for the same. This, despite the fact that he was the main force behind BJS gaining the highest seats of its lifetime under his guidance in the 1967 Lok Sabha elections, which ran up to 35 seats.
Since then, he became an acerbic critic of the BJP, and never hesitated in pointing out the inherent flaws that the duo of Advani and Vajpayee possessed, some of which brought disastrous results on the national front as well, like the Kandahar fiasco. He died a death in penury and ignominy, aged 96 in 2016.
The way Advani treated Madhok, who was like a father figure to the Hindu nationalists post independence, also deprived him of able and devoted workers,
for e.g. Shankar Singh Vaghela, who disillusioned with his tactics, left the party in haste, and joined the Congress Party, making a laughing stock of both himself and the party. So it should not be surprising, if he is being snubbed for exactly the same reason, i.e. being an impediment in the progress of the new leaders of BJP, i.e. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
Besides, the other thing that denied Lal Krishna Advani a stint on the top posts, was his excessive penchant for secularism, something that BJP abhors. He is perhaps one of the first high command politicians from the nationalist sector who claim to be nationalist, work as nationalists, but can’t give up their love for secularism. He was so keen to shed off his Hindu Hardliner Image that he went as far as saluting Jinnah, Check this Telegraph Report. Which nationalist in his / her sane mind would eulogize Jinnah and call him secular, and even visit his mausoleum as a mark of respect?
Please, don’t even get me started on how he tried to exert his machismo on the firebrand leader that Narendra Modi was, when he as a Gujarat CM decided to extend his brand of governance to the whole nation. Like with Balraj Madhok, Advani went out all stop to prevent Modi from being anointed as the Prime Ministerial candidate, despite the glaring fact that even his own leadership for the PM campaign was disastrous with reference to the 2009 elections, where despite the anti incumbency factor, BJP bit the dust. As a last ditch effort, to make his importance felt, Advani even resigned from all the posts in BJP, when it became clear that Modi would be declared as the PM candidate.
Advani didn’t have the charisma to lead the nation, but he wouldn’t let anyone else actually capable of that have it. Perhaps that is the reason why the Modi Shah duo royally snubbed Advani during every strategic decision taken, reducing him to the role of a mere mentor of the ‘Margdarshak Mandal.’
Today when one sees a miffed Advani casting his vote in the President’s election, for a post that could’ve been his, we cannot help but pity the fact that had he not let his inner demons overtake him, he could’ve seen his dreams come true. But he didn’t, and now he is having a taste of his own medicine, seeing an underrated, but hardworking party worker taking seat as the 14th President of India. Strange are the ways of life, it screws you right when you think you have figured it out.