Lal Krishna Advani is a prominent leader of the BJP. In fact after Vajpayee he is the most recognizable face of the BJP on the Indian Political horizon. Advani’s life spans over eight decades of Indian polity. From this angle alone, his autobiography ‘My country, My life’ is a significant contribution.
The book is voluminous and covers Advani’s life from his days at Karachi before independence to the 21st century. It’s a vast canvas and Advani has spent considerable time on it to present the facts as he sees them. Hardly any Indian political leader of significant stature has written an autobiography, with the exception of Nehru. Advani thus needs to be complimented for this step.
Advani’s book makes interesting reading as its gives an insight as to how the thought process of the Hindu social and political party the RSS led to the launch of the political outfit the Jan Sangh. This party later transformed into the BJP. The first part of the book particularly his period in Karachi and the influence of the RSS on him makes interesting reading. He brings out his disenchantment with the Congress party for their perceived failure to prevent partition and eulogizes the work of the RSS during the difficult days of 1947 when India was aflame with Hindu Muslim riots. Advani also discusses the bomb plot of 1947 at Karachi in which a few Hindu Sindhi leaders were implicated.
Advani’s does clarify his equation about Gandhi. He brings out the fact that he has all respect for the leader, but his analysis of Nehru and Indira Gandhi are revealing. He is critical of them.
The book spread over a thousand pages, could have been edited by at least 200 pages and the inherent content would not have been lost. After reading his book one can appreciate the brand of nationalism of Advani. His interpretation of the Shah Bano verdict as well as his Ram Rath Yatra and Ram temple at Ayodhya which led to the down fall of the VP Singh government are interesting as they give the view point of Advani and the Hindu party i.e. BJP (Bharatia Janta Party).
Advani however for all his long association with the RSS (Rashtra Swayam Sevak Sangh) and Hindu revivalist party the BJP and earlier the Jan Sangh does come out as a secularist. Nowhere in the book does Advani appear to be anything, other than a nationalist. When he was penning this book there was a chance he would be Prime Minister of India, hence some portions might have been written with that in view. But that does not detract from the merit of the book. Reading it gives one an insight into the mind of one of the greatest Hindu leaders of the BJP in the present era.
Advani was the Deputy Prime Minister in the BJP government under Vajpayee. His friendship with Vajpayee is clearly brought out where Vajpayee was the mentor and Advani the follower. However Advani glosses over his role in the release of the wanted terrorist Azar Masood in the aftermath of the hijacking of Indian air line plane. Greater transparencies in this would have added value.
Also lacking are personal intimate details of Adjani’s personal life. An autobiography is not a political testament but should be all encompassing including personal life. This lacuna is not addressed in the book.
However the book is worth a read if only to know the working of the mind of the man who would be king. Advani’s defeat at the hustings does not detract from the merit of the book.
Source by Madan G Singh