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Advani has been 'misunderstood', says Vajpayee

The former Prime Minister feels that Advani has become a "victim" of the dichotomy between his image of a hardliner and reality.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 19, 2008 08:59 PM IST

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee feels that LK Advani has been "misunderstood" and become a "victim" of the dichotomy between his image of a hardliner and reality.

Recalling his association with the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, Vajpayee said Advani has been his "friend and comrade-in-arms" ever since he started working for the Bharatiya Jana Sangh over 50 years ago.

In a foreword in Advani's new book 'My country my life' released on Wednesday, Vajpayee said the BJP leader has made an "enduring contribution" to a vigorous debate on "genuine secularism".

Vajpayee, who has been ailing for sometime and keeping out of public gaze, sought to allay impression of Advani as a hardliner in the party.

"During the course of his long, and inarguably eventful, poliitical life, Advaniji has, at times, been misunderstood and as a result become a victim of the dicholotmy between image and reality," he wrote.

Vajpayee said those who have worked or interacted with Advani know him as a man who has never compromised on his core belief in nationalism, and yet has "displayed flexibility in political responses whenever it was demanded by the situation".

Vajpayee candidly admitted that there have been differences on issues and approaches with Advani during their long association.

He said it was not possible for two individuals to always have an identical response while working together for over half a century within an organisation.

"However, it is not the differences, but the unity of purpose and action, that marked our relationship," 84-year old Vajpayee said seeking to put a lid on media speculation about rifts between the two leader.

To drive home his point, Vajpayee said divergence of viewpoints never led to discord "neither did they become a cause for division".

Vajpayee believed that the party pursuing the ethos of working together as the primary reason for remaining united. He saw this as an exception in India, where "organisational fissures have sadly been a regular feature".

The former Prime Minister sounded a word of caution to the party which is preparing for elections in the next 12 months.
He emphasised that the ethos of camaraderie needs to be zealoursly preserved and further strengthened in the BJP as it charts its future course of development.

"The self-imposed discipline of never taking differences beyond the Laxman Rekha in matters of what is good for the party and the nation is the most reliable guarantor of success in the long-term," he said.

Going a step further, he said the philosphy of working together is a fundamental requirement for strengthening the democratic system and making it immune to the often debilitating pulls and pressures of politics in the era of coalitions.

Vajpayee described Advani as an "outstanding" leader "whose best, I hope and pray, is yet to come".

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