Dr. Rajbir Saha
Lal Krishna Advani, or LK Advani, as he is popularly known, is widely regarded as an individual of great intellectual ability, strong principles, and unwavering support for the idea of a strong and prosperous India. Born on November 8, 1927, to student life, his patriotic ideals inspired him to join the Rashtriya Swayamasevak Sangh (RSS) at the age of fourteen, and since then he has dedicated his life to the service of the nation. At the age of 20, Advani’s celebration of India’s independence from the British in 1947 was sadly short-lived, as he became one of the millions who were uprooted from their homeland amid the terror and bloodshed of the tragedy of India’s partition. However, these events did not embitter or disillusion him but instead fueled his desire to create a more secular India. LK Advani left for Delhi on September 12, 1947, with other RSS swayamsevaks to seek shelter and a fresh start in a truncated India, and so began the next phase of his life—as an RSS pracharak. All Pracharaks and senior leaders of the RSS were asked to assemble in Jodhpur. After the Jodhpur camp ended, he, along with others, was sent to different parts of Rajasthan to continue RSS activities. For the next decade, Rajasthan was to be his karmabhoomi, first only as an RSS pracharak and later as a permanent Bharatiya Jana Sangh party activist.
LK Advani’s first entry into alliance politics was in municipal affairs in Delhi; he did not contest the council elections as he was given the responsibility of organising the party’s city unit for three polls. Under the provisions of the Delhi Metropolitan Council Act, AB Vajpayee persuaded Union Home Minister YB Chavan to nominate LK Advani to the Council. The party then decided to put him up as a candidate for the election of the Chairman of the Council. Advani won the election and became the chairman.
In April 1970, a vacancy was created in the Rajya Sabha after the tenure of I. K. Gujral. The party fielded LK Advani and was elected on the basis of Jana Sangh’s majority in the Council. He moved from the DMC chairman’s office to the Chamber of Deputies.
Vajpayee became the president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh in February 1968, and in December 1972, Advani was formally elected as the president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
On June 25, 1975, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, declared an “emergency” in which she assumed near-totalitarian power and ordered the arrest and imprisonment of all her opposition party leaders while banning the RSS. Advani, who was in Bangalore at the time along with Vajpayee, was arrested and sent to jail. After the election was called on January 18, 1976, Vajpayee was released. Political developments in the country were moving at a frantic pace, and on the same day fresh elections were announced, Jayaprakash Narayan announced the formation of the Janata Party, with Morarji Desai as its president, Charan Singh as its vice president, and Advani becoming one of its four general secretaries.
The emergency was officially lifted on March 23, 1976, following a landslide victory for the Janata Party with a clear majority, securing 295 seats in the 542-seat House. The Prime Minister asked Advani what portfolio he wanted, and he said without hesitation that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has a deep fondness for media-related matters.
Sadly, the glory of the Janata government was short-lived. Midterm elections were held in January 1980. Voters were disillusioned with the power struggle and split in the Janata Party. At a two-day national convention on April 5–6, 1980, a new political organisation called the Bharatiya Janata Party was formed, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee elected as its first president. In 1984, Advani was appointed party president.
Under Advani, the BJP became the political face of the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign. It was Advani as BJP chief when the party took the Mandir pledge in 1989 and then his ‘Rath Yatra’ in 1990 from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya in UP to build a Ram temple that changed the course of Indian politics. The Ram Mandir resolution bore fruit, and the BJP’s number of seats under Advani skyrocketed from 2 to 86. In 1989, Rajiv Gandhi lost power, and the National Front formed a government under V. P. Singh, with the BJP extending support.
In the 1991 general elections, the BJP won the second-largest number of seats after the Congress. The party under Advani was the main opposition party from 1991–1996. The party’s position went up to 121 seats in 1992 and 161 in 1996, making the 1996 election a watershed in Indian democracy. For the first time since independence, the Congress was dethroned from its leading position. After the 1996 general elections, the BJP became the single largest party and was subsequently invited by the President to form the government. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister in May 1996. Subsequently, in March 1998, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power, and Vajpayee returned as Prime Minister. The NDA won the majority of seats in parliament. However, the government only survived for 13 weeks before the J. Jayalalitha-led AIADMK withdrew its support in mid-1999.
A few months after the Kargil War, elections were held again in 1999. The 13th Lok Sabha elections are of historical significance as it was the first time that a united front of parties managed to win a majority and form a government that lasted the entire period. a tenure of five years under the able leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L. K. Advani, the NDA Government, which lasted for its entire tenure of five years until 2004.
2009. K. Advani took over as Home Minister and was later elevated to the post of Deputy Prime Minister. LK Advani bravely faced tough times as a Union minister when India faced a series of internal disturbances in the form of rebel attacks allegedly supported by Pakistan. As the elections approached in 2004, the BJP suffered a general election defeat and sat in opposition. Advani became the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009. But in 2014, the BJP again returned to power with an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, with Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. So on January 22, 2024, PM Narendra Modi conducted pran-pratistha at Ram Temple in Ayodhya. As the nation is still in a celebratory mood for the dedication of the Ram temple in India, the government has announced that the Bharat Ratna will honour senior BJP leader and the man behind the Ram Janambhoomi movement, Lal Krishna Advani. He will be the 50th recipient of the highest civilian honour since its inception and the seventh under the Modi government.
Therefore, L. K. Advani asks the people of India to make the right choice in choosing a leader who has lived through the mistakes of India’s past and looks forward to ensuring that India becomes more united, stronger, and stands taller with its tomorrow brighter than its today.