NEW DELHI: On a day that saw the realisation of
his literary dreams and the release of his book My Country
My Life, senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani’s only
regret was the absence of “Atalji” on stage.
Published by Rupa and Co. and released here on Wednesday
by the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the rather
thick volume traces the journey of political development
in post-Independence India as observed by a young Mr. Advani.
It takes the readers on a 60-year-long passage through an
impeccable, albeit occasionally controversial political
“When I called on Kalam Sahib a few days ago to give
him a copy of the book, the former President had just one
observation to make. He said it would have been appropriate
if instead of him the book was released by Atal Bihari Vajpayee,”
said Mr. Advani to a packed Siri Fort auditorium here.
Attributing all his ideological beliefs to the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh, the veteran leader said he had joined
the organisation when he was not quite 15 and from that
day on his life acquired a new meaning.
“Right from the day I joined the RSS, it has continued
to exert a profound influence on me. All the positives in
my personality and work can be accredited to the RSS. I
won’t delve much on the book here, but just allow
it to speak for itself,” he added.
Mr. Kalam — who incidentally had to walk the last
100 yards or so leading to the auditorium due to a severe
traffic jam — said the book acquired great significance
because Mr. Advani’s life has been intertwined with
several historical events of the country.
“He combines an incisive analytical ability with
a panoramic view of India. The book is mandatory reading
for the young as it does not only reveal the personality
of the writer, but also the tumultuous ambience of the times
that he witnessed,” added Mr. Kalam.
The former Union Minister, Jaswant Singh, the former Vice-President,
Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, RSS general secretary Mohan Rao
Bhagwat and eminent journalist Cho Ramaswamy were present.
“A white lie”
In the book, Mr. Advani recalled a meeting with Pakistan
President Pervez Musharraf at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in
July 2001, just before the Agra summit. Mr. Advani said
he had told General Musharraf that handing over underworld
don Dawood Ibrahim to India would generate enormous amount
of trust in him and his country.
General Musharraf, his unease palpable, replied assertively,
“Mr. Advani, let me tell you emphatically that Dawood
is not in Pakistan.’
Several years later, a Pakistani official who was present
during the meeting told him “what our President said
about Dawood on that day was a white lie.”