The Central government has announced that it will honour former Deputy Prime Minister and BJP veteran LK Advani with the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to his personal ‘X’ account to share the news and congratulate Advani on his remarkable achievements.
A life dedicated to nation-building
LK Advani, born in Karachi, present-day Pakistan, on November 8, 1927, witnessed the tragic events of India’s partition that led to millions being displaced. Despite the upheaval, Advani did not harbour bitterness or cynicism; instead, he was motivated to contribute to the creation of a more secular India. With this vision, he ventured to Rajasthan to continue his work as an RSS Pracharak.
Advani joined the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the precursor of the BJP, in 1951 and rose through the ranks to become its president in 1973. He was one of the prominent leaders who opposed the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975 and was arrested along with other opposition leaders. He played a key role in the formation of the Janata Party, which defeated the Congress in 1977.
In 1980, Advani became one of the founding members of the BJP and served as its general secretary. He was instrumental in shaping the party’s ideology and strategy, and led it to several electoral victories. He became the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha in 1989 and 1996.
A catalyst for the Ram Janmabhoomi movement
In the latter half of the 1980s and the 1990s, LK Advani dedicated himself to the task of elevating the BJP into a national political force. The tangible outcome of his efforts became evident in the 1989 General Election, when the BJP emerged as the second-largest party.
One of the most significant events that marked Advani’s political career was the Ram Rath Yatra, a procession aimed at mobilising volunteers for the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Starting from Somnath in Gujarat and concluding at Ayodhya, the yatra played a crucial role in shaping the political narrative and galvanising the Hindu vote bank.
The yatra also sparked communal tensions and violence in several parts of the country, culminating in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. Advani was accused of inciting the mob and was arrested along with other BJP leaders. He was later acquitted by the CBI court in 2020.
A trusted ally of Atal Bihari Vajpayee
LK Advani shared a close bond with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who described him as his “closest friend for over six decades”. The duo led the BJP to form the first non-Congress government that lasted a full term from 1999 to 2004. Advani served as the Deputy Prime Minister and the Home Minister in the Vajpayee cabinet, and handled several important portfolios such as defence, finance, and information and broadcasting.
Advani was widely regarded as Vajpayee’s successor and the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP in the 2004 and 2009 elections. However, the party lost both the elections to the Congress-led UPA. Advani stepped down as the leader of the opposition in 2009 and handed over the reins of the party to a younger generation of leaders.
A respected statesman and a mentor
LK Advani is widely respected as one of the most influential and experienced politicians in India. He is known for his intellectual acumen, steadfast principles, and an unwavering commitment to the vision of a robust and prosperous India. He has also been a mentor and a guide to many BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who considers him as his “political guru”.
The announcement of the Bharat Ratna for Advani has been welcomed by leaders across the political spectrum, who have lauded his contributions to the nation. Advani has expressed his gratitude and humility for the honour, and said that he will continue to serve the country in whatever way he can.