I know I am late with this review. I tried to run through each page carefully with “My Country My Life” and thus this delay. The reason being that this book is not just about Lal Krishna Advani, but is about partition, Nehruvian style of governance and Nehru’s errors, dynastic politics, arrest of democracy (read emergency), emergence and strengthening of coalition style of governments and whole platter of diverse issues.
L.K.Advani born Lal Kishinchand Advani on 8 November 1927 is today one of most respectable political leaders steering the country towards a better tommorow. “My Country My Life” is widely read book and is Advani ji’s autobiography. I find the book to be more than an auto-biography just as Atal Behari Vajpayee ji himself puts it in the foreward
Advaniji’s autobiography aptly titled My Country My Life, closely follows the defining moments of Independent India, including the tragedy ofPartitio that accompanied the joy of freedom from the British rule, allowing readers to learn about both him and, to some extent, also about the extraordinary times he has lived in.
Ever since BJP emerged into a political force to reckon with, and in a positive sense, to uncover the truth behind the dangerous game being played by Indian National Congress for short term political gains, the whole nation started taking notice of what right-thinking political fabric of the nation is. Until the Ramjanma Bhoomi Movement, the whole nation was behaving like an Ostrich – hiding all the things that were not so good instead of looking at solutions to the problems. Advaniji writes in detail about Ramjanma Bhoomi Movement episode. He goes on to mention that it is one of the defining events in his life.
Along with the leftist journalists and historians, INC deliberately pictured Hintuva as a danger to India’s secular fabric whence Secular was a word added to the constitution only during Emergency by Indira Gandhi. The irony is that today Indian media at every given oppurtunity boasts that “India is a secular nation because our constitution says so” but fails to mention how Indira Gandhi ammended the constitution to add Secular and Socialist to the Constitution during the emergency when the house was fractured.
Advaniji dealt with this issue in My Country My Life in great detail bringing out the facts and also asserting that “constitution makers never even thought about introducing a word like Secularism because it is embedded in life style of every Indian”.
Advaniji was the central home minister during the NDA rule in the period 1997-2004. He writes about the various issues he took up during his time. It astonishes me to read (excerpts reproduced here):
……I was told about the ease with which the ISI created “sleeping cells” in various parts of India. One day, early in my stint in the Home Ministry, Ajit Doval, a senior IB officer who had a great reputation as an “operations man” (he later became the director of IB), came to me and said “Sir, we have been able to bust an ISI module in Orissa’s Balsasore district.” The details he mentioned to me were frightening …………The local kingping was an innocuous Bengali-speaking tea-stall owner, who,over the years, had been gathering information from persons working on our missile programme………..Then there was the case of a blind madarassa teacher in a village in the Muzaffarnagar district in western UP in Jammu & Kashmir…………..An innocent looking poultry farmer in Hyderabad turned out to be a long standing ISI agent……….It is a matter of gratification to me that betweem 1998-2004 our intelligence and security agencies were able to bust 272 ISI-linked modules, which included 97 espionage networks and 113 modules of sabotage and subversion…..[excerpts from My Country My Life]
Be it with Bangladeshi immigrants issue or Punjab terrorism issue or Cross border terrorism issue, INC had never shown the willingness or ability to nip down the dis-integrators of the country and that was when L.K.Advaniji and the likes moved the nation with stirring movements in the form of Yatras. L.K.Advaniji has been at the core of all these yatras. He mentions about the motivation, planning and the reception of these movements in this book. Please do read about these movements especially carefully because these movements were the events when Indian Democracy lifted its head with pride and proved that infact India has the capability to move on to become the best example of democracy in the world.
Advaniji also writes about many people who he loved to work with. But he mentions in great detail about some with whom he had a special relationship.
One such person Advaniji mentions about is Deendayal Upadhyaya, the great mind behind Bharatiya Jana Sangh and the formulator of BJP’s core ideology – “Integral Humaism”. Deendayal Upadhyaya ji is one of the great thinkers who hadn’t been given the canvass by media as much as other philosophers and thinkers. I leave it to the reader to speculate if the media’s partisan behaviour and continous ignroance of the great philosophy of cultural nationalism and Integral Humanism is deliberate.
Another such personality Advaniji explains about is J.P.Narayan ji. The relationship between JP and RSS was not very good before the emergency. But during and after the emergency, JP’s relationship with RSS and BJS improved. The reason Advaniji mentions is the honesty and core principles of RSS and BJS. JP went on to mention in a public meeting “…….If the Jana Sangh is fascist, then Jayaprakash Narayan is also a fascist….”
One other such important person in Advaniji’s book, not surprisingly, is Atal Behari Vajpayee. Advaniji’s relationship with Vajpayee ji is in my view like the relationship between “Ram and Lakshman”. Before reading this book, I used feel this whenever I saw them together in a public meeting or on TV. After reading this book, I am convinced that my understanding was infact right. Though Advaniji never mentions this directly in this book, it is but logical to conclude this especially after reading one whole chapter, “Atal Behari Vajpayee – A Statesman with a poetic soul“, on his relationship with Atal ji.
I attended Advaniji’s public address in Rajahmundry, my hometown, ahead of 1997 polls. It was the time when I was in my teens and was trying to understand what is nation and why should one be patriotic? What Advaniji spoke that day moved me. He pointed out as to how INC has been continuously playing with the constitution and the people. Ever since I attended that meeting and followed it up with some reading, I was convinced that INC is out there not to develop the country but to develop itself and its royal dynastic heads!!!
Today we are nearing general elections. It is the right time for all of the first time voters like me to look at both sides of the coin and take a decision on “whom to vote for?”. This book lets you look at other side of the coin, that side which has been hitherto ignored. This book gives you an oppurtunity to understand what kind of person is in the bidding for the top post of the country from the right-thinking side of the national politics.
I recommend this book to every Indian who wants to understand India and its democracy, who wants to know the reality behind emergency, who wants to understand why we need a right-thinking political leadership at the helm of national affairs.
I would like to end this post with the following excerpt from Appendix VI of the book:
The BJP greatly appreciates the continuing interaction we have been having with the RSS and with other organizations in the Sangh Parivar. Their views provide valuable inputs of our decision-making process. But the BJP as a political party is accountable to the people, its performance being periodically put to test in elections. So in a democratic, multi-party polity, an ideologically-driven party like BJP has to function in a manner that enables it to keep its basic idological stances intact and at the same time expand itself to reach the large sections of people outside the layers of all ideology.
Note: The blogger understands that My Country My Life is a copyrighted work and that all rights are reserved. However some excerpts have been mentioned here to only ascertain the arguments made in the post. The blogger appeals to the copyright owners that it would be appreciated if any infringement is overlooked and would also like to inform that these excerpts will be removed if they feel necessary.