Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani’s friendship dates back all the way to the 1950s and has stood the test of time throughout their political journeys. Advani served as the Deputy Prime Minister under the Vajpayee government from 2002 to 2004.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani |Photo Credit: BCCL
New Delhi: If there is one ‘jodi’ in Indian politics that has stood the test of time, facing all the highs and lows that life, and especially the world of Indian politics, has to offer, it is certainly that of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani. The two entered politics almost at the same time decades ago and remained each other’s trusted advisor and friend ever since. Tales of their friendship are not just endearing, but also inspiring.
Vajpayee and Advani, whose friendship goes back to the 1950s, are credited to have helped build the Bharatiya Jana Sangha in its nascent years. The BJS was the predecessor to the major political force that is now known as the Bharatiya Janata Party. The two contested elections for the Lok Sabha elections in 1977 on the Janata Party ticket, a multi-party alliance that had emerged briefly for the time post Emergency (1975-77).
During the second tenure of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998, Advani served as the Home Minister in his government. Later he was elevated to the position of Deputy Prime Minister from the years 2002 to 2004. Reminiscing about his time and his partnership with Vajpayee,
Advani had said in an interview to a news channel, “During that period when he was prime minister, if anyone went to him with a problem either of the government or the party, his invariable answer would be ‘Advani-ji se baat ho gayi? Kar lo ekbar‘ (Have you spoken to Advani, please speak to him once), almost every time. This kind of mitrata (friendship)… where can it be found, where does it exist (anymore)?”
As per a report by news agency IANS, Advani had once revealed that during their younger days, the two would often go to eat ‘gol-gappas’ on the streets, with Advani driving the scooter and Vajpayee riding pillion. He reportedly said, “And I remember those days, Rivoli and Regal (cinema halls), in the middle was a golgappawala. We would go there and have chaat. Those days, I would drive the scooter and he (Vajpayee) would ride pillion. I was not particular about chaat. But he (Vajpayee) would sit beside the chaatwala and eat, also golgappas.“
The bonding factor for the two was books and films, Advani had once said at a public event while recollecting anecdotes about his friendship with Vajpayee. “We both had an interest in watching films and reading books,” he had said during an event.
In fact, in May 2013, Advani had also released a blog on the BJP’s website, describing Vajpayee as the country’s most outstanding prime minister. Not only that, Advani had also written to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, listing out 10 reasons why Vajpayee should be conferred with Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, as per an IANS report.
Truly a friendship like that of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani is rare to find in our times.