The tales of friendship between Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani has stood the test despite numerous highs and lows. Unfolding the pages of Indian politics dating 1950’s, Jodi of Advani and Vajpayee is certainly the epitome of most remarkable partnership among two politicians.
Three years part in age, former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani were the veteran leaders and the best of friends of their era. Although both had deep differences in ideologies, political style, beliefs, the duo owed their loyalty to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and its worldview of uniting Hindu society. They both had interests in literature, journalism and cinema.
Vajpayee and Advani, whose friendship goes back to the 1950s, are credited to have helped build the Bharatiya Jana Sangha from the scratch. 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).
The degree of trust between the two was such that Advani would definitely consult Vajpayee and rely on his decision. Reminiscing about his time and his partnership with Vajpayee, Advani had once said –
“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)?”
Reciting another nostalgic instance from the old-rooted friendship, Advani had said –
“I remember our young days, Rivoli and Regal (cinema halls), in the middle was agolgappawala. 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.”
Advani called Vajpayee a ‘great consensus builder’. 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.
Truly a friendship like that of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani is rare to find in our times.