Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lal Krishna Advani - Biography

L.K. Advani was born in Karachi in 1927.  He completed his early schooling from Saint Patrick's High School, Karachi, and then enrolled at D G National College in Hyderabad (Pakistan) Sindh. His graduation in  Law is from Government Law College, Mumbai University.

Advani was elected as the Secretary, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Karachi in 1947. Advani was later sent to Matsya-Alwar in Rajasthan, which had witnessed communal violence following Partition, to oversee the affairs of the RSS there.

Advani became a member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh which was founded in 1951 by Syama Prasad Mookerjee. He was active in its affairs.  He became member of the Rajya Sabha from Delhi for the six-year tenure from 1970. He became  President of Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1973 at the Kanpur session of the party working committee. His first act as president of the BJS was to expel founder member and veteran leader Balraj Madhok from primary membership of the party for supposedly repeatedly violating the party directives and acting against the interests of the party.  When Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency in India in June 1975, suspending many vital democratic and constitutional rights, Advani was imprisoned with most other prominent leaders of the opposition. Emergency was lifted in January 1977 and General Elections declared for March 1977. All major political parties opposing Congress Govt united to form Janata Party, and fought elections.  The parties that came together include: the Congress (O), the Swatantra Party, the Socialist Party of India, the Jana Sangh and the Lok Dal.  Jagjivan Ram split from the Indian National Congress, bringing a small faction known as the Congress for Democracy with him, and joined the Janata alliance. Janata Party and its allies won a landslide victory in the election. Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister of India, Advani became the Minister of Information and Broadcasting.

But within a short time, there was protest about relation with RSS of former Jana Sangh party members. As a result of this friction, the erstwhile members of the Jana Sangh, quit the Janata Party and they formed the new Bharatiya Janata Party. Advani became a prominent leader of the newly founded BJP.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was appointed the first president of the new party.  BJP won only two Lok Sabha seats in the elections of 1984. There was sympathy wave in the country, as Indira Gandhi was assassinated, and the Congress won a record number of seats. Advani succeeded Vajpayee as the party president.

Under Advani, the BJP  took up the issue of  Ram Janmabhoomi campaign for temple in Ayodhya. In the early 1980s, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) 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. The agitation was on the basis of the belief that the site was the birthplace of Rama, and that a temple once stood there that had been demolished by the Mughal emperor Babur when he constructed the Babri mosque. The BJP threw its support behind this campaign, and made it a part of their election manifesto, which provided rich dividends in the general elections of 1989.  The National Front government of VP Singh was sworn in. The support of the BJP, with its tally of 86 seats, was crucial to the new government.

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. In the 1991 general elections, the BJP won the second largest number of seats, after the Congress.

In 1992,  the Babri Masjid was demolished by the karsevaks who assembled in lakhs at Ayodhya,

BJP, under Advani, sat in the opposition from 1991–1996 during the reign of P V Narasimha Rao. The Rao regime was repeatedly accused by the BJP of corruption and various scandals.

After the 1996 general elections, the BJP became the single largest party and was consequently invited by the President to form the Government. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister in May 1996. However, the Government did not last long and Vajpayee resigned after thirteen days.

After two years, general elections to the Lok Sabha were held again and   the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), came to power with Vajpayee returning as Prime Minister in March 1998. However, the govt survived fell in mid-1999 when All Indian Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) under J. Jayalalitha withdrew its assistance to govt. With the NDA no longer having a majority, India's Parliament was again dissolved and new elections were organised. Vajpayee remained the Prime Minister until elections were organised.

Advani assumed the office of Home Minister and was later elevated to the position of Deputy Prime Minister. As Union Minister, Advani had a tough time with India facing a string of internal disturbances in the form of rebel attacks allegedly supported by Pakistan. The NDA government lasted for its full term of five years till 2004, the only non-Congress government to do so.

As elections approached in 2004, Advani was supremely confident and conducted an aggressive campaign where he claimed the Congress Party would not get even 100 seats. The BJP suffered a defeat in the general elections held in 2004, and was forced to sit in the opposition. Another coalition, the United Progressive Alliance led by the resurgent Congress came to power, with Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.

Vajpayee retired from active politics after the 2004 defeat, putting Advani to the forefront of the BJP. Advani became Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009. In June 2005, he drew much criticism when he, while on a visit to the Jinnah Mausoleum at Karachi – his town of birth, endorsed Mohammad Ali Jinnah and described him a "secular" leader. This did not sit well with the RSS either and Advani was forced to relinquish his post as BJP president. However, he withdrew the resignation a few days later.

The RSS chief K. S. Sudarshan opined that both Advani and Vajpayee give way to new leaders. At the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the BJP in Mumbai in December 2005, Advani stepped down as party president and Rajnath Singh, a relatively junior politician from the state of Uttar Pradesh was elected in his place. In March 2006, following a bomb blast at one of the holiest Hindu shrines at Varanasi, Advani undertook a "Bharat Suraksha Yatra" (Sojourn for National Security), to highlight the alleged failure of the ruling United Progressive Alliance in combating terrorism.

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.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, BJP President 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 was elected as MP from Gandhi Nagar constituency in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. But, as a veteran, he  was dropped from the BJP Parliamentary Board in 2014 and included in the Marg Darshak Mandal of the BJP along with Murli Manohar Joshi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Advani was honoured with Padma Vibhushan in 2015.

Positions Held
1967–70: Chairman, Metropolitan Council, Delhi
1970–72: President, Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Delhi
1970–89: Member, Rajya Sabha (four terms)
1973–77: President, Jana Sangh
1977: General-Secretary, Janata Party
1977–79: Union Cabinet Minister, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
1977–79: Leader of the House, Rajya Sabha
1980–86: General Secretary, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
1980-86: Leader, BJP, Rajya Sabha
1986–91: President, BJP
1989: Elected to 9th Lok Sabha(1st term) New Delhi
1989–91: Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha
1991–93: Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha
1991: Elected to 10th Lok Sabha (2nd term)
1993–98: President, Bharatiya Janata Party
1998: Elected to 12th Lok Sabha (3rd term)
1998–99: Union Cabinet Minister, Home Affairs
1999: Elected to 13th Lok Sabha (4th term)
1999–2004: Union Cabinet Minister, Home Affairs
2002–2004: Deputy Prime Minister of India
2002: Union Cabinet Minister, Coal and Mines
2004: Elected to 14th Lok Sabha (5th term) - Leader of Opposition
2009: Elected to 15th Lok Sabha (6th term)
2014: Elected to 16th Lok Sabha (7th term)

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