Sunday, January 22, 2017

Not A Book Review.

*Truth be told i found this old post in my Draft today.*

Truth be told I have a lot of grudges against Mr. Lal Krishna Advani. Not for political reasons at all but for writing a mammoth 950+ pages autobiography in hard bound. Now that I am reading it and also happen to be travelling with the interconnecting flights I have to carry the big book with me everywhere. I am not your usual light traveller so the excess baggage I carry in my bagpack with the heavy duty biography has caused my bag to tear under immense weight.

The book was gifted to me about 05 years back by a friend whose father happen to be a BJP leader. The giant size of book itself discouraged me from picking it up but recently on my drive to read all my unread books on the shelf I happened to pick it up.

The most interesting part is when abord a flight or any other public place, people sitting near me would sneak in to read a few extracts and not able to contain their curiosity would ask me which book I was reading. I was frankly quite surprised by the interest shown in the thick red hardbound book that I was so intently "studying" and using a highlighter to mark the important parts. The following were the reactions I got from my co-passengers:-

(a) Is this a book about constitution?
(b) Are you preparing for civil services exams?
(c) Are you a lawyer?
(d) Why are you reading this?
(e) Is this book about Ayodhya?

Interestingly the only time I have got such an interest in a book I was reading was while reading another autobiography. Guess the Author? Mahatma Gandhi! All of ₹30 and bought from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahemdabad it took me a mammoth time to finish the book and also one of the reason that it was a travel companion for long was due to it's small size and light weight.

Both books are vastly different and of course don't merit a comparison. Mahatma's biography is full of such honestly that it strikes like a thunderbolt to you. Mr. Advani tries to be politically correct but I don't blame him. The book was released before his campaign as Prime Ministerial canditate of BJP in 2009 Lok Sabha election. A single word out of place in the media frenzy nation (orchestrated by 24X7 News Channels) would have torn him apart to bits. Thank God Mahatma didn't have Arnab.

But to read through such auto biographies is not only a journey through the leader's life it is also a journey through the story of India told by the people in first person who wrote it or shaped it.

An interesting facet about the two stories is a single thread: Hindutva. Mahatma today with all his strong religious convictions and Hindu faith would have been prosecuted as being a Hindutva communal leader by endless Media trials by merciless anchors and screaming participants of the "discussions/debate", but a misguided youth propelled by his own convoluted Hindutva ideology shot Mahatma and one of the chief architects of Hindutva philosophy and politics in independent India was Mr. Advani. It's grossly unfair to do a comparative analysis of both the books but so far for some reason these two books have evoked an unprecedented response from the people who see me consuming them. Its interesting to note how both men treated Hinduism and politics. Both men had a passionate love for books and consumed them voraciously. It is evident by the scores of book mentioned by them which shaped their thinking and personality. With an appetite of consuming books both men were a walking encyclopedia to say the least or at least Mr. Advani still "is".

When I was carrying Gandhiji's biography and travelling through Gujarat I remember how someone walked over from a distance to me just to know why I was reading that particular book! The person turned out to be a software engineer who then did a causative analysis of my personality by asking me a 1000 questions on my life and philosophy of life. We became good friends and I had quite the pleasure of his company through the rest of the road journey. On another occasion a retd. lady professor of English Lit. from DU sitting by my side on a flight journey engrossed in deep discussions on what made me read Mahatma's autobiography and remarked I was the first one in her entire career who she had seen reading this book. Needless to say despite our age difference we had a good discussions of almost everything under the Sun.

I will refrain myself from passing remarks on Mr. Advani's political career post 2009 election but one thing does merit attention is that architect of electoral success of BJP and shaping of national political landscape is Mr. Advani.

I am yet to finish reading Mr. Advani's autobiography but with such an interesting glimpse of Indian political history given by someone who was in the middle of it all makes it quite unputdownable.

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