Lal Krishna Advani (लाल कृष्ण आडवाणी, born 8 November 1927) is an Indian politician and a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Advani served as Minister of Home Affairs in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government from 1998 to 2004. Additionally, he served as Deputy Prime Minister of India from 2002 to 2004 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was the Leader of the Opposition in the 10th Lok Sabha and 14th Lok Sabha. Advani began his political career as a volunteer of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation. In 2015 he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honor.
L. K. Advani was born in Karachi in a Hindu Sindhi family of businessmen to parents Kishanchand D. Advani and Gyani Devi. He hails from the Lohana caste. He completed his early schooling from Saint Patrick’s High School, Karachi, and then enrolled in D G National College in Hyderabad, Sindh. His family migrated to India during Partition and settled down in Bombay, where he graduated in Law from the Government Law College of the Bombay University.
L K Advani married Kamla Advani (1932-2016) in February 1965. He has a son, Jayant, and a daughter, Pratibha. Pratibha Advani produces TV serial shows, and also supports her father in his political activities. Kamla Advani wife died on 6 April 2016 due to old age.
Advani joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1942. He became a pracharak (full-time worker) of the Karachi branch and developed several shakhas there.After Partition, Advani was sent as a pracharak to Matsya-Alwar in Rajasthan, which had witnessed communal violence following Partition. He worked in Alwar, Bharatpur, Kota, Bundi and Jhalawar districts until 1952.
Advani became a member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, also known simply as the Jana Sangh, a political party founded in 1951 by Syama Prasad Mookerjee in collaboration with the RSS. He was appointed as the secretary to S. S. Bhandari, then General Secretary of the Jana Sangh in Rajasthan. In 1957, he was moved to Delhi to look after the Parliamentary affairs. He soon became the General Secretary and, later, President of the Delhi unit of the Jana Sangh. After the 1967 elections, he became the leader of the city’s Metropolitan Council. He also assisted K. R. Malkani in editing the RSS weekly Organiser, and became a member of the national executive in 1966.
He became member of the Rajya Sabha from Delhi for the six-year tenure from 1970. After serving various positions in the Jana Sangh, he became its President in 1973 at the Kanpur session of the party working committee. His first act as president of the BJS was to expel founder member and veteran leader Balraj Madhok from primary membership of the party for supposedly violating the party directives and acting against the interests of the party. He was a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat from 1976 to 1982.After the Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, the Jana Sangh and many other opposition parties merged into the Janata Party. Advani and colleague Atal Bihari Vajpayee fought the Lok Sabha Elections of 1977 as members of the Janata Party.
The Janata Party was formed by political leaders and activists of various political parties who had been united in opposing the state of Emergency imposed in 1975 by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. After elections were called in 1977, the Janata Party was formed from the union of the Congress (O), the Swatantra Party, the Socialist Party of India, the Jana Sangh and the Lok Dal. Jagjivan Ram split from the Indian National Congress, bringing a small faction known as the Congress for Democracy with him, and joined the Janata alliance. The widespread unpopularity of Emergency rule gave the Janata Party and its allies a landslide victory in the election. Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister of India, Advani became the Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Vajpayee became the Foreign Minister.
The erstwhile members of the Jana Sangh, quit the Janata Party and they formed the new Bharatiya Janata Party. Advani became a prominent leader of the newly founded BJP and represented the party in the Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian Parliament) from Madhya Pradesh for two terms beginning in 1982.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was appointed the first president of the new party. Historian Ramachandra Guha writes that despite the factional wars within the Janata government, its period in power had seen a rise in support for the RSS, marked by a wave of communal violence in the early 1980s. Despite this, the BJP under Vajpayee initially took a more moderate approach to Hindutva, to gain a wider appeal. This strategy was unsuccessful, as the BJP won only two Lok Sabha seats in the elections of 1984. A few months prior to the election, Indira Gandhi was assassinated, creating a sympathy wave for the Congress that also contributed to the BJP’s low tally, as the Congress won a record number of seats. This failure led to a shift in the party’s stance; Advani was appointed party president, and the BJP returned to the hardline Hindutva of its predecessor.