BJP leader LK Advani today said he suffered from an inferiority complex due to the oratorical skills of his party colleague Atal Bihari Vajpayee and now has the same problem when he hears Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.
"I had told Atal Bihari Vajpayee in early 1970s that I have developed an inferiority complex due to your speeches... I tell the same to Sushma Swaraj also. I really mean it," Advani said at a programme held in New Delhi to mark his 85th birthday.
Advani maintained that he was shy of public speaking till the 1960s and wanted to avoid addressing large crowds. He recalled that in 1968 Vajpayee became President of the erstwhile Jan Sangh- which became BJP after the Emergency- and after holding the post for a few years wanted to pass on the baton to him.
"I declined saying I could not give public speeches and suggested that we should make Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia the president," Advani said.
However, when the Rajmata refused and others also could not take over the mantle, Advani had to take over. By and by he developed the confidence to address large gatherings.
"I was in awe of Atalji and earlier felt that if politicians spoke so well, then I would not be able to make it," Advani said.
In her address, Swaraj described Advani as a "father-like figure" for her who respected her so much despite an age difference of 25-26 years.
"Today when in the country there is a feeling of distrust for politics and politicians, we have Advani who has a clean and unblemished record even after being in politics for 60 years. This is our capital," Swaraj said.
She lauded him as one who encouraged talent and said leaders like her had grown under his tutelage.
"Whenever we have any problem we feel assured that he is there and we can go to him for his guidance," Swaraj said.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said Advani had the talent to take up an issue and build it up to a level where it gains acceptability across the country.
Former BJP President Rajnath Singh said Advani, even at such an age, was the first one to encourage use of Information Technology for the party.