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When journalist LK Advani was asked to switch dhoti for trousers

Once a journalist, BJP’s L K Advani takes a walk down memory lane at the 70th anniversary of RSS publication Organiser.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2018 10:40 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
L K Advani,BJP patriarch,Organiser magazine
File photo of vice president Venkaiah Naidu presenting a bouquet to senior BJP leader L K Advani,on his 90th birthday on November 8, 2017.(HT PHOTO)

Former deputy Prime Minister LK Advani was given sartorial advice of switching from wearing the traditional Indian style dhoti-kurta, considered the attire of choice by politicians, to trousers and shirts during his stint as a journalist.

The disclosure comes in the 70th anniversary edition of the Organiser, an RSS publication which reproduced a chapter from Advani’s autobiography. He had worked as a film critic and later took on an editorial position in the Organiser.

“My work in the Organiser necessitated a change in my sartorial appearance. Ever since I started working as an RSS pracharak in Rajasthan I had stopped wearing trousers and shirt and instead switched over to the India-style dhoti and kurta,” Advani who joined the Organiser as an assistant editor in 1960 recalls.

Observation by his colleagues that the dhoti-kurta was the dress of a neta (political leader) and does not suit a journalist nudged Advani to go in for a makeover.

“I have never believed that western attire is a sign of modernity. I have always felt more comfortable, in body and mind, wearing a dhoti-kurta. At the same time, I was never dogmatic about these matters. I saw merit in the advice given by my colleagues and started wearing trousers once again,” he writes.

Advani joined the RSS in 1942 and was assigned full-time work in Rajasthan; soon after he joined the Jana Sangh, the precursor to the BJP and shifted base to Delhi in 1957.

Changes at the Organiser were not limited to attire alone. Advani recalls that to make the publication less serious as the journal was “too dry and only wrote about political issues”, it was decided to introduce a column on films.

“I volunteered and began writing a regular column under the pen name Netra (eye).”

Advani also recalls how the magazine articulated the party’s concern s during the 1962 Chinese agression. He writes about the concerns over then PM Jawaharlal Nehru “trying to befriend China as part of his grandiose vision of internationalism” and this concern was shared with the deputy PM and home minister Sardar Patel.

The BJP patriarch also remembers how another former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri was more amiable towards the RSS and “unlike Nehru did not harbour any ideological hostility towards the Jana Sangh and RSS.”

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 10:36 IST