In Curt Letter, LK Advani Rejects Book Written By Aide Just Before Release

NEW DELHI: Vishwambhar Srivastava was BJP veteran LK Advani’s aide for over three decades. A few months ago he decided to write a book on the long association with a leader who has been a key architect of India’s political history.

In Curt Letter, LK Advani Rejects Book Written By Aide Just Before Release

But one day before the official release of the book titled “Advani Ke Sath 32 Saal” (32 Years With Advani) came a jolt. Through his secretary, Mr Advani has disassociated himself from the book.

“This book does not have the consent of LK Advani and has been published against his wishes,” the leader’s secretary, Deepak Chopra, said in a statement.

Sources close to Mr Srivastava say that he was surprised by the curt letter released to the media. They said, “the manuscript during drafting was sent to Mr Advani so was the final manuscript. This has come as a complete surprise.”

In fact the pictures of Mr Srivastava holding the book standing with Mr Advani taken some days ago indicate that the BJP patriarch was “aware of the book.”

The book will be released today by another BJP leader RK Sinha and the chief guest of the ceremony will be Rajya Sabha lawmaker Subramanian Swamy.

Some sources say that the book narrates scores of anecdotes from Mr Advani’s political past 30 years. And perhaps the senior leader decided to distance himself from the book to avoid any controversy over the content or its interpretation as it presents an insider’s version to several political events involving Mr Advani.

The book recalls the tumultuous events of September 2013 when Mr Advani opposed the BJP Parliamentary Board’s decision to pick then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

Mr Advani, who stayed away from the Parliamentary Board meeting, told then BJP chief Rajnath Singh that he decided not to attend the Parliamentary Board as he thought it was “better”.

“I had told you that I will think whether I should share my thoughts with other Board members or not. Now, I have decided that it is better that I do not attend today’s meeting,” he said in the brief letter.

Sources say the author has written that on September 13, 2013, Mr Advani had not planned to oppose Narendra Modi’s anointment. The book presents the events which will show that “Mr Advani had planned to attend the meet. Well ahead of the meet he got inside his car to leave for the BJP headquarters, the venue of the meet, but then there was a change of plan at the last minute.”

Mr Advani’s decision to skip the meet undid his decades-old relationship with Mr Modi, in which they were called the mentor and protege.

It is anecdotes like these which are expected to rekindle the controversies surrounding such events.

The book also recalls that Mr Advani was strongly opposed to nepotism in politics and he vetoed strongly his son joining politics and contesting a Lok Sabha seat. It says that in 1989, Mr Advani said a strong no to his son Jayant contesting a by-election from the Gandhinagar constituency despite clear feedback from the state leaders that he will win the bypoll.

The ex-deputy prime minister is said to have told Ahmedabad East lawmaker and loyalist Haren Pandya, “Jayant may win from Gandhinagar easily but I will not allow him to contest.”

This was after Mr Pandya had suggested that Jayant should contest from Gandhinagar and Mr Advani from the New Delhi seat. Mr Advani fought from Gandhinagar and New Delhi and won both. He resigned from New Delhi. Superstar Rajesh Khanna, the Congress candidate, won the by-polls for New Delhi.

There is another interesting episode about the oath ceremony after which Mr Advani took over as the Information and Broadcasting minister in the Janata Party government, led by Morarji Desai on March 24, 1977.

It says Mr Advani was taken aback at the sight of the armed men who formed a ring around him after the oath at the President’s house was over. Mr Srivastava writes that on reaching home, he saw some security personnel already there, waiting for him.

“When he (Advani) reached home, the security men saluted him. He is said to have asked Srivastava “who are they?” When he was told that they are security personnel to protect him, Advani was very unhappy and he told Srivastava “I don’t need any security. Ask them to go back.”

Mr Srivastava writes that it was only after top officials spoke to him the men in khaki were allowed to stay.

Mr Advani was edged out of the BJP’s top decision making bodies and made a member of a non-functional ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ or guidance body after PM Modi and Amit Shah took charge of the government and the party. With the rise of PM Modi and the ever growing gap between the two, he had to end his blog writing. During the last two years, Mr Advani has maintained a low profile barring being part of a stinging letter he wrote with other sidelined veterans like Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar against how the PM Modi-Amit Shah duo was running the party right after the BJP’s embracing Bihar loss.