Lal Krishna Advani
Lal Kishanchand Advani,—known as Lal Krishna Advani—is a right-wing Hindu nationalist politician, a product of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, (National Volunteers’ Organization, RSS). Advani was born in 1927 to an upper-class family in Karachi, Sindh—a province which acceded to Pakistan in 1947. He became a swayamsevak (volunteer) for the RSS in 1942 and started his political career in 1947 as Secretary of the RSS branch of Karachi, developing many shakhas (units). Having earned his law degree from Bombay University, he moved up through the hierarchy of the Sangh Parivar ((the family of organizations that developed from the RSS), by becoming, in 1952, BJS (Bharatiya Jan Sangh, Indian People’s Alliance) Secretary in Rajasthan, BJS Vice-President for the Delhi Unit in 1958, and BJS President in 1973. He was jailed in 1975 during the whole Emergency and, afterwards, when the Janata Party took over, he was given an important portfolio (Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting in 1977–79). He became President of the newly formed BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, Indian People’s Party) in 1986, and Deputy Prime Minister of India in 2002 under the prime ministership of his close BJP colleague, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Advani also held various prominent positions such as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha (the Indian parliament’s lower house) and in the Rajya Sabha (Council of states), and as Minister of Home Affairs. Advani led his party on to vibrant successes by fostering a renewed nationalist Hindu militancy through aggressive religious mobilization. In 1990, with his Ram Rath Yatra (procession of chariots), that was to reach Ayodhya to “free” the birth place of Ram from its “occupation” by the Babri Masjid (mosque), Advani crossed India with a lot of fanfare and mobilized Hindu crowds as never before. This “pilgrimage” polarized the electorate along communal lines and left a bloody trail of communal riots in its wake.
JAFFRELOT, Christophe. 1996. The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics: 1925 to the 1990s, Strategies of identity-building, implantation and mobilisation. London: C. Hurst.