On February 3, 2024, Lal Krishna Advani was conferred with India’s highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna,’ by the Government of India. However, a section of the media have criticised this decision, as seen in The Wire’s article “An Advani Honoured, the Republic Diminished.” The article depicts LK Advani as a divisive figure associated with the Ayodhya movement and portrays Advani’s relationship with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as one of constant comparison and rivalry.
However, it’s important to examine Advani’s contributions and understand why he deserves this prestigious award. This response aims to provide a fair view of Advani’s contributions in post-Independent India.
LK Advani, a stalwart of Indian politics, has left an indelible mark on the country’s socio-political landscape through his dedication, leadership, and vision. His journey can be learned through distinct phases, each marked by unique contributions and pivotal moments that have shaped India’s trajectory.
First Advani: A life devoted to Country’s service
From his humble beginnings, Advani’s commitment to the nation was evident. Joining the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at the age of 14, he inherited the ethos of selfless service and dedication to the country. His mantra, “This life is not mine. My life is for my Nation,” shows his unwavering resolve to prioritise the nation’s interests above all else. Throughout his life, Advani remained steadfast in his pursuit of serving Bharat Mata.
Second Advani: A Visionary Leader
Advani’s partnership with Atal Bihari Vajpayee symbolised a harmonious blend of leadership, mutual respect, and shared vision. Together, they steered the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) towards unprecedented success. Advani’s endorsement of Vajpayee as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, without consultation, showcased his selflessness and commitment to the party’s greater cause.
Third Advani: Uniting Hindu Society
Advani’s Rath Yatra stands as a watershed moment in Indian politics, aimed at uniting Hindu society and mobilising support for the construction of a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. This historic yatra navigated the length and breadth of India, galvanising Hindu sentiments and reshaping the country’s socio-political landscape. Advani’s Rath Yatra fostered a sense of unity among Hindus across the nation, leaving an indelible imprint on India’s collective consciousness.
Fourth Advani: Strengthening National Security
As India’s Home Minister, Advani spearheaded pivotal initiatives to enhance national security and combat internal threats. His tenure saw the introduction of stringent anti-terrorism measures, including the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), aimed at safeguarding the nation against emerging challenges. Advani’s efforts in bolstering border security and modernising law enforcement agencies played a pivotal role in fortifying India’s internal security.
Fifth Advani: Modi’s Guru
LK Advani and Narendra Modi share a ‘Guru-Shishya’ relationship characterised by mutual respect and admiration. PM Modi has often acknowledged Advani as his guru, crediting him for shaping his political ideology and leadership style. In one of his interviews, PM Modi expressed gratitude to Advani, acknowledging his guidance played a pivotal role in shaping him into the leader he is today. Their relationship symbolises a passing of the torch within the BJP’s leadership hierarchy. In conclusion, Lal Krishna Advani’s journey embodies a sense of dedication, vision, and leadership that has indelibly shaped India’s political landscape. From his early days as RSS Swayamsevak to one of India’s greatest leaders, Advani’s contributions span across decades, leaving an enduring legacy of selfless service to the nation.