Wheel turns full circle for Advani

Wheel turns full circle for Advani
New Delhi, Jun 1 (PTI) For someone long regarded within BJP as a future Prime Minister, the wheel has turned a full circle for Lal Krishna Advani when he was today elected Leader of the BJP Parliamentary Party that will make him Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, a post he held 13 years ago.

Widely regarded within the Sangh Parivar as a potential successor to Vajpayee in the Prime Minister's chair, the shock results of the recent elections meant that the 77 year old journalist-turned-politician will lead the opposition in the Lok Sabha against the first ever Congress-headed coalition Government.

Advani, a forceful speaker with cold logic, was always a perfect foil to the poetic and persuasive Vajpayee. But his advocacy of the Hindutva issue, symbolised by his famous Yatra politics catapulted him into the Centrestage of Indian politics.

He took over as BJP President from Vajpayee in 1986 in the aftermath of the 1984 poll debacle when the party faced its "worst setback" of winning only two seats.

Advani is largely credited with its rise to 88 seats in 1989, 121 seats in 1991, 181 seats in 1996 and finally the saffron party's emergence as the ruling party in 1998.

Born on November 8, 1929 in Karachi, Advani did his schooling at St Patricks. He later graduated in Law from Bombay University.

An active member of the RSS in Karachi, he served the RSS in Rajasthan after partition. He later joined the Jan Sangh and went on to become the Secretary of their Parliamentary Group.

In 1967, he was elected Chairman of the Delhi Metropolitan Council and in 1970, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Member of Parliament. He held the position of Information and Broadcasting Minister in the Janata Party Government in 1980 and was BJP's All India President from 1986 to 1991.

Having been a member of the Rajya Sabha for nearly two decades, he was for the first time elected to the Lok Sabha from the New Delhi constituency in 1989. He was again re-elected from the Gandhinagar and New Delhi constituencies but retained the former seat.

One of the most serious challenges in his political career came when his name figured in the Hawala scandal in 1995. He vowed not to contest elections till his name was cleared and skipped the 1996 elections.

After his name was cleared by the Delhi High Court, he again contested and won the 1998 elections from Gandhinagar constituency.

With the NDA partners finding Vajpayee more acceptable among the two as the country's Prime Minister, Advani became the Home Minister under him.

In July 2002, he was elevated to the number two position as Deputy Prime Minister.

A voracious reader, Advani's favourite hobby is watching films - both Hindi and English.

Advani, who was Information and Broadcasting Minister in the Morarji Desai government, is the author of two books - 'The Prisoner's Scrapbook' written about his experience during the emergency and 'The People Betrayed' on the Janata Party split.

A disciplinarian to the core, Advani has always referred to Vajpayee as the supreme leader of the BJP and NDA and never responded to reports about their "differences". His becoming the Leader of the Opposition after six years of NDA rule marks his emergence from the shadow of Vajpayee.

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