Lal Krishna Advani is quite like Lord Shiva, the mythical destroyer and creator of life. He resurrected the Bharatiya Janata Party to life, from the fringed edges of cities to put it firmly on the centre stage Of Hindustan and in the short span of a decade saw it shrink, not much but enough to send it back to the frayed edges. The Bhishma pitama is in reality the courageous Karna, who let the party bloom but was crushed under the party's shadow. In the shade of the hugely charismatic and accepted Vajpayee, Advani was this wild younger sibling who could never match up, be tamed and that eventually became his waterloo. A journalist, a film buff who famously shed tears after watching Taare Zameen Par and an amazingly affable man, at 83 he finds the energy I cannot summon at 23, this is the end of the Advani era.
My first glimpse of Advani was when he was at the 70th birthday celebrations of Lata Mangeshkar in Bombay, when he was the Home Minister and so disarmingly asked her to sing his favorite song "Bhabhi ki choodiyan". The elderly statesman reduced to a child at a joy ride. There has been a LOT of criticism of Advani, his rath yatras, Babri and Jinnah. All taken, but what you cannot take away from him is the more than 55 years of public service, wherein a Sindi boy from Karachi would rise to be at the altar of some of the most important chapters of Indian polity. From the dusty confines of Rajasthan where he was with the RSS to the plush Lutynes Delhi, it has been a remarkable journey and like most great journeys the end was harsh and unforgiving!
Advani's forte always has been communication, from the time he was a journalist with Organiser to today when he speaks volubly about anything at length. The last of the great grass root politicos who prefer people to air conditioned offices rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sardar Patel,JP, Mrs G and Vajpayee. His story is quite like Vikram and Betal, He the Vikram wanting and willing to move on and his ghostlike past,Betal always lurking and trailing him, however in this case the Betaal triumphed. It's curtains for him but the role he has defined for himself will endure.
Patel was what he aspired to be, Advani was what we got and Advani is what we'll take,gratuitously and gratefully. Time for the heroes to return to Antilla. Adios,swayamsevak.