Offstumped  previews My Life, My Country – Mr. L.K. Advani’s much awaited autobiography which is already making news with an overdrive of media speculation part fuelled by carefully scripted marketing one would assume by the publishers part with to do with the media’s BJP obsession.

The media hounds are predictably out in the droves speculating on pet controversial themes like the Jinnah episode. With no dearth of anonymous Senior BJP Leaders ever willing to sound a sour note, the Advani memoirs are getting publicity alright of one kind or the other.

The Jinnah episode we are now told by the PTI is no matter of regret for Mr. Advani, and rightly so feels Offstumped. The Jinnah remarks were distorted and blown out of proportion to begin with and Mr. Advani’s observations had little to do with his position on contemporary issues facing India, none of which have changed in any measure after the remarks were delivered. Mr. Advani’s reflections on his Jinnah remarks while of historical academic curiosity are not the most interesting aspect of the memoirs that Offstumped is looking forward to. The Babri Masjid demolition too will have its say in the memoirs but again with a court case and a commission of inquiry pending one shouldnt expect too much from Mr. Advani beyond whats already in the public domain.

On the other hand his reflections on his relationship with Atal Behari Vajpayee should make for an interesting read. Not so much for the media manufactured accounts of an Advani-Vajpayee rift but for the uniqueness of this relationship.

It can be safely said that the Vajpayee-Advani relationship is without a parallel in the history of any modern democracy. It is perhaps the most understated phenomena in Indian Politics with barely any extensive insights or commentary giving an insiders view of what endured that relationship.

To better appreciate why this relationship is without parallel let us consider some other relationships that have dominated politics in India and other modern democracies. In recent times you had the Tony Blair-Gordon Brown relationship with its characterized by an unseemly lust for power – the former couldn’t find the grace to leave soon enough and the latter couldn’t seem to wait to move in to 10 Downing Street. Then a few decades back you had the MGR-Karunanidhi relationship which ended in acrimony and political rivalry. The asymmetry in the Gandhi-Nehru relationship makes it an apples to oranges comparison. Every other relationship in every political formation in Indian politics has had an unseemly falling out of one kind or another almost invariably on account of the lust for power.

The BJP under Vajpayee and Advani is unique in that it has never split and every public falling out by a dissident leader has almost always seen the dissidents fade into political irrelevance while the mother ship sails on. The past six decades of democracy in India have been characterised by one-man/one-woman shows with the express purpose of serving the ego of the individual at the top with no tolerance for either dissent or for a line of succession outside the family.

It is in this sense the Vajpayee-Advani tango is unqiue and without a parallel.

Neither had power gifted on a platter to them, neither lusted for power in an unseemly manner. They were together in thick and thin, deferring to each other with dignity and mutual respect. We know all of this from public knowledge. What would be particularly interesting to see if in the memoirs Mr. Advani gets to the heart of what made this relationship enduring and how it withstood its darkest moments. What was the source of this trust and doubts, if any,  when they did surface were clarified.

Offstumped wishes Mr. Advani the best for the impending release of his memoirs and looks forward to reviewing them.

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