Prime Minister Narendra Modi today visited veteran BJP leader LK Advani at his home to wish him on his birthday as he turned 95 today. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was with PM Modi.
Sharing some photos of the meeting on Twitter, PM Modi later said Mr Advani’s “contribution to India’s growth is monumental”.
Visuals shared by public broadcaster Doordarshan showed PM Modi walking in to the lawn with Mr Advani’s daughter Pratibha Advani before he gave him a bouquet and sat down for a chat. They were seen smiling and talking animatedly, sitting next to each other, though it wasn’t clear what they spoke as the video did not have conversation audio.
BJP president JP Nadda tweeted wishes in Hindi, saying, “Your life dedicated to the nation and organisation is an inspiration for us.”
Home Minister Amit Shah said Mr Advani, with his relentless efforts, strengthened the party organisation across the country and also made invaluable contribution to the country’s development while being part of the government.
Mr Advani, who served as Deputy PM under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is seen as a major force behind the BJP’s rise through the past three decades — from a party with two seats in the Lok Sabha to first forming alliance governments in the late 1990s and eventually coming to power with its own majority under Narendra Modi in 2014.
Staring from the 1980s, his championing of the demand for a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya — headlined by a ‘Rath Yatra’ or chariot ride — is also a marquee event in the rise of Hindutva politics that propelled Mr Modi’s eventual rise.
Before 2014, Mr Advani was seen as a claimant to the PM post but had to step aside as Mr Modi’s popularity grew.
A lawyer by education, Mr Advani has been a lifelong worker for the BJP’s mentor body RSS, though he did not remain unmarried as many of the RSS workers do. He has a son and a daughter with his wife who died in 2016.
He was born in Karachi in a Sindhi family of businesspeople, on November 8, 1927. The family moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) after the Partition in 1947. He worked for the RSS in Rajasthan and won elections from Gujarat and Delhi too.
He was the Minister of Home Affairs in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government from 1998 to 2004. He also served as the Deputy Prime Minister from 2002 to 2004.
In 2015, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour.