When LK Advani revealed his mind and politics in Mumbai

At a Joint press conference with Bal Thackeray in Mumbai, recalls the then India Today Correspondent Salil Tripathi, Advani had first announced BJP’s alliance with Shiv Sena and a lot more

LK Advani (PTI)
LK Advani (PTI)

NH Web Desk

It was back in the nineties of the last century when out of the blue BJP announced an alliance with the Shiv Sena. The then Mumbai correspondent of India Today, Salil Tripathi, recalls that while Gopinath Munde and Pramod Mahajan had confirmed that the alliance was in the offing, it was kept under wraps and the Editors sitting in Delhi had ruled out any BJP alliance with the ‘communal’ SS.

But of course the alliance was duly announced and Tripathi shared the details of the historic press conference on Twitter a day after LK Advani caused a minor commotion with his blog post in which he lamented the transition of Bharatiya Janata Party into a more rabid, aggressive and abusive political party.

Tripathi in a post on Twitter scoffs at the post and is scathing in his assessment of the senior leader. Recalling the press conference, he writes, “He may have read many books, he may have been a journalist, he may have been imprisoned - but none of that made any difference on his bigotry… I do credit him for helping create a monstrous party destroying the fibre of India.”

Tripathi recounts: “A reporter who is Parsi asks Bal Thackeray's views on Ram Janambhoomi. Thackeray says a temple has to be built and the mosque removed first. Advani smiles. The reporter asks: What if tomorrow you'd find that below the fire temple of Parsis there is a relic from Shivaji's times. Thackeray says in that case the fire temple has to go. The reporter is stunned; turns to LKA and asks: "We know Shiv Sena. But does BJP agree?”

“Advani pauses, narrows his eyes, smiles, and looks around, and says, "Next question."

“I ask Advani about Thackeray's call to boycott Sikh businesses (because Sikhs in Bombay, in his view, weren't doing enough to oppose what remained of the Khalistan movement.”

“Advani says he has no view and looks away from me. That day I knew what Advani was all about.”

The complete thread of Tripathi’s Twitter post can be found here:

Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, contrary to media speculation, are unlikely to contest the election as independent candidates or as candidates supported by the opposition, maintain political sources.

L K Advani’s blog post on Thursday has also failed to create any ripple he may have hoped for. Even as some sections hailed his ‘statesmanlike’ comment, others wondered why he kept silent for so long. There has been little sympathy for him as observers recalled his role in creating and nurturing the kind of party that he now claims to be uncomfortable with.

Reaction from the RSS and the Right wing to his post has actually been vicious. While an RSS spokesman on TV belligerently wondered if Advani had not supported the idea of a Hindu Rashtra, abolition of Article 370 etc, a commentator on the website Firstpost described the blog as a rant by a “patriarch refusing to accept the reality of his superannuation and raging against the dying of light.

“It won’t harm his target Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All the blog does is reveal the bitterness Advani nurtures in his heart and exposes him to ridicule from the 'liberal' brigade who see in his attempts at “statesmanship” a crow donning the feathers of a peacock,” the commentator wrote.

Those who have personally known Advani think of him as a gentleman, even a good man. They refer to his interest in books, films and writing. But a bureaucrat had once unwittingly blurted out that “he is a poor judge of men and has no clue about administration.” This was when Advani was the Home Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.

Not surprisingly, his blog post received a mixed reaction, thumbed up by some and thumbed down by many more.

Sudheendra Kulkarni, a one-time aide, tweeted:

Today Shri #LKAdvani ji has emerged as a RESPECTED MARGDARSHAK for the whole nation. “In our conception of Indian nationalism, we have never regarded those who disagree with us politically as 'ANTI-NATIONAL'”. His true follower today is @RahulGandhi, and not divisive #Modi

While Zafar Sareshwala, a former Modi Bhakt, tweeted:

Badi Derr kardi Meherbaan kehte kehte! better late than never! #LKAdvani Sahab has a very long and distinguished career in the #IndianPolitics! His words said today are not only for the @BJP4India but for all the politicians & Political parties

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