LK Advani

A former president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Lal Krishna Advani has served as a Deputy Prime Minister of India from 2002 to 2004.

Advani, began his political career as a volunteer of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Karachi in 1947. Advani served as a member of Rajya Sabha for 19 years from 1970-89.

He became a member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which was founded in 1951 by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. In 1975, Advani took over as President. With the dissolution of Jana Sangh, Advani and his colleague Atal Bihari Vajpayee joined the Janata Party to fight the Lok Sabha Elections of 1977.

 LK Advani

Image Courtesy: PTI

The widespread unpopularity of Emergency rule gave Janata Party and its allied a landslide victory in the election. Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister of India, Advani became the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the Janaty Party in 1977.

The erstwhile members of the Jana Sangh, came out of the Janata Party and they formed the new Bharatiya Janata Party. Advani became a prominent leader of the newly founded BJP in 1980 and represented the party in the Rajya Sabha.

Advani became the president of the BJP in 1986.  In 1988, he was elected as a member of the Lok Sabha.

He gradually brought in a shift in the party's policies by advocating an aggressive brand of Hindutvaa policy that was to reap rich dividends.  In the elections of 1989, the combined might of the VP Singh led Janata Dal and the BJP managed to dethrone Congress. Despite emerging as the single largest party, the Congress opted to sit in Opposition, and a coalition headed by V P Singh as Prime Minister formed the government.

In 1989, the BJP launched a movement led by Advani on the issue of the Ram Janmabhoomi. Advani embarked on a "Rath Yatra" to mobilize "karsevaks" to converge upon the Babri Masjid to offer prayers. The movement caused a major Hindu-Muslim riots.

In the 1991 general elections, the BJP came second after the Congress party in terms of seats.

In 1992, two years after Advani ended his yatra, despite assurances given by the Kalyan Singh led BJP Government to the Supreme Court, the Babri Masjid was demolished by the "karsevaks" with alleged complicity of the Kalyan Singh government. Advani was one of the main accused in the Babri Masjid case and was named in a police FIR for Babri Masjid demolition. However, in 2003 a court in Rae Bareli discharged Advani in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

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 and the BJP made good use of all these issues to project itself as the only corruption free alternative to the Congress.

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. After two years in the political wilderness, the BJP under the umbrella of the National Democratic Alliance (a BJP-led coalition), again came to power with Vajpayee as PM in March 1998.

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 terror attacks from neighbouring Pakistan . The BJP-led NDA Government lasted for its full term of five years till 2004, with Vajpayee as the Prime Minister.

In the 2004 elections, despite Advani's  confidence, the BJP suffered a defeat, and was forced to sit in the opposition.

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. During this period, Advani had to deal with rebellion from within the party. His two close associates, Uma Bharati, and Madan Lal Khurana, and longtime rival Murali Manohar Joshi publicly asked him to step down as the BJP President.

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 statement outraged people all over India and damaged his credibility. Advani offered his resignation amid controversy over his comments on Jinnah. However, a few days later he took back the resignation.

In December 2005, Advani stepped down as BJP President.

In an interview with a news channel in December 2006, L.K. Advani stated that as the Leader of the Opposition in a parliamentary democracy, he considered himself as the Prime Ministerial candidate for the general elections, but the public revelation irritated some of his colleagues who were not supportive of his candidacy.

The BJP  launched a nationwide mass political campaign in the form of Bharat Suraksha Yatra from 6 April to 10 May, 2006. The Yatra was undertaken to safeguard National Security  from jehadi terrorism and left-wing extremism and to defend national unity. Advani covered a distance of 6,000 kms travelling through the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi.

In February  2010, Advani was elected as the working chairman of NDA.

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Updated Date: Oct 11, 2011 15:54:56 IST