LAL KRISHNA ADVANI, the BJP stalwart who catapulted the party into national reckoning with his Rath Yatra for Ayodhya’s Ram Temple in the early 1990s, has been conferred with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.
“I am very happy to share that Shri LK Advani Ji will be conferred the Bharat Ratna. I also spoke to him and congratulated him on being conferred this honour,” prime minister Narendra Modi wrote on X.
Modi, while announcing the honour for the veteran, said Advani’s role in the development of India is monumental. He called him one of the most respected statesmen of India.
“One of the most respected statesmen of our times, his contribution to the development of India is monumental. His is a life that started from working at the grassroots to serving the nation as our deputy prime minister. He distinguished himself as our home minister and I&B minister as well. His Parliamentary interventions have always been exemplary, full of rich insights,” he said.
While responding to the announcement, Advani said that the Bharat Ratna award is not only an honour for him as a person but also for the ideals and principles that he strove to serve throughout life to the best of his ability.
“With utmost humility and gratitude, I accept the Bharat Ratna that has been conferred on me today,” he said in a statement soon after Modi announced his name for the award.
The 96-year-old leader, the longest-serving president of the BJP, said ever since he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as its volunteer at the age of 14 years he has sought reward in only one thing – “in dedicated and selfless service of my beloved country in whatever task life assigned to me”.
He said what has inspired his life is the motto: “This life is not mine. My life is for my nation.” Today, he said, he gratefully remembers two persons with whom he had the honour of working closely – Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, awarded the Bharat Ratna earlier.
Expressing heartfelt gratitude to millions of BJP workers, RSS volunteers and others with whom he had worked in his public life, Advani thanked President Droupadi Murmu and Modi for the honour.
“I also express my deepest feelings for all members of my family, especially my dear departed wife Kamla. They have been the greatest source of strength and sustenance in my life,” he said.
He added, “May our great country progress to the pinnacle of greatness and glory.”
Born in Karachi, Advani migrated to India after the Partition. He settled down in Bombay. He had joined the RSS in 1941 at the age of fourteen.
In 1951, he became a member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which was founded by BJP icon Syama Prasad Mookerjee. The Jana Sangh was the political precursor to the BJP.
Advani became the member of the Rajya Sabha for the first time in 1970. He served four RS terms till 1989.
He first became the minister for information and broadcasting and leader of the house in Rajya Sabha in 1977, following the Janata Party’s victory in the general elections.
He is one of the founding members of the BJP. He served as the president of the party three times. In 1989, he became a Lok Sabha member for the first time.
When the Atal Bihari Vajpayee formed a government in 1999, Advani served as the minister of home affairs and the deputy prime minister.
In 2015, he was conferred with the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour.