Advani's book may clear myths about him
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are waiting with bated breath for the release of Leader of Opposition LK Advani's memoirs titled "My Country, My Life".
Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam will release the book at Siri Fort Auditorium here March 19.
Sources close to Advani say he plans to unravel in this book many "mysteries" about himself, the Sangh and the BJP, his lifelong association with the Sangh parivar, and also clear many misgivings about him.
"For instance, the book will show how the impression about Advani being a hardliner, obscurantist Hindu is a myth created by the media," said a source.
"The book is well-timed. It will facilitate an image makeover for Advani to enable him to successfully project himself as an acceptable face for future prime ministership, to lead the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the coming round of general elections," said one of his critics in the BJP in an off the cuff remark.
On record, however, his personal secretary Deepak Chopra said: "Wait for the book. You will learn everything." He, of course, regretted that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would not be able to attend the function because of his indifferent health. "Vajpayee is too unwell to make it."
On the other hand, a Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader was pleased with the prospect of Advani setting the record straight and said: "We should welcome it if he is turning secular. Surely, it will also help us in the long run."
The book is likely to have some of his candid views on the way the NDA government succumbed to the terrorists during the hijack of Indian Airlines plane to Kandhahar.
Also, the fiasco of Pakistan President Parvez Musharraf's visit to Agra, where Advani and his men were blamed for the failure of the talks, is expected to find a mention in the book, said sources in the party.
The publisher's promo says that there are chapters on terrorism, Agra summit, Kargil war and the Jinnah controversy, which would be "particularly riveting."
BJP leaders wonder how Advani handled the recent period of his life when he went to Pakistan, praised its founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah and drew flak from the Sangh and the BJP on that account.
Soon after the BJP announced Advani as its prime ministerial candidate, its leaders have started avoiding any mention of Advani's praise of Jinnah, at least on record.