Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

The "lifetime achievement" of Mr. Advani

I was a bit taken aback by NDTV’s decision to give a “lifetime achievement award” to L.K. Advani of the Bharatiya Janata Party. After all, Mr. Advani was widely acknowledged as being one of India’s worst Home ministers when he held the job between 1998 and 2004. And he’s no great shakes in his current avatar as Leader of the Opposition either. Which is why he did not win NDTV’s ‘politician of the year’ award this time despite being a nominee.

I haven’t seen NDTV’s official citation (actually, I’m pretty sure he was given this award as a consolation prize to make sure he attended the awards ceremony) but the unseemliness of the whole thing got me thinking about what exactly are the lifetime achievements of Mr. Advani….

Here’s a brief list of what he’s presided over or singlehandedly achieved:

1. Demolition of Babri Masjid (contribution to conspiracy thereof) 1992
2. Hijacking of IC 814 and release of deadly terrorists like Masood Azhar, 1999
3. Massacre of Sikhs by terrorists at Chittisinghpora, 2000
4. Massacre of Kashmiri Pandits at Nadimarg, March 2003
5. First-ever terrorist attack on Amarnath yatris, 1999
6. Terrorist attack on Parliament, December 2001
7. Godhra and the Gujarat massacre of Muslims, 2002
8. Terrorist attack on Akshardham and Raghunath temples in 2002
9. Harassment of media from Tehelka to Iftikhar Gilani
10 Failure to take any decision on dozens of death row mercy petitions pending before him from 1998 to 2004 and now demanding the Congress government move swiftly on the mercy petition of Afzal.

This is a pretty impressive list and I’ve barely covered 11 years of the great man’s life and achievements. Readers are invited to add more details.

On a separate note, I’m not sure newspapers and TV channels should be dishing out awards of this kind, especially to categories like politicians and businessmen — people from whom a certain distance is necessary if one’s coverage is to be truly objective. I urge everyone to read Monika Halan’s recent note on why she resigned as editor of Outlook Money to understand how conflicts arise:

The OLM [Outlook Money] Awards are being used to fulfil the advertising goals of
the Group. In fact, we were all part of the meeting where we were told that the
award should have gone to LIC despite it not making the cut since it is a large
company with many readers as policyholders. In a subsequent mail from the
President, I was told that the concern is that LIC has withdrawn all ads to the
Outlook Group. I see it as a clear conflict of interest between ad and edit,
especially since edit has sincerely worked on the awards in an attempt to make
them the most unbiased awards in the country…”

31 comments on “The "lifetime achievement" of Mr. Advani

  1. narahari
    September 21, 2011

    what about Rajiv Ghandhi who got bharat rathna for killing 3000 sikhs.

  2. dipak91
    May 1, 2009

    if you like it or not Mr.Advani will be the PM of India and I wish him verry redy for black day for CHAMCHA of white skin.
    Chamcha is better word what about SLAVE of white people?

  3. Ravi Kiran
    February 11, 2009

    Cheap ,,,, Cheap and Cheap

  4. john
    January 26, 2009

    in my opinion, neither Mr. Advani is socalled ‘pro-hindu’, nor congress is called, ‘pro-secular’…..both are ‘pro-power’….both want ‘power’ and NDTV want make hay when the sun shine (this time with precaution….) NDTV has started siding with BJP and Congress has adopted ‘CNN IBN’……As Karl Marx says, ‘the media speaks the language of the employer (the powerful)…….Who is powerful? Eachone has his/her own guess. i am not an ‘advani-hater’….I love him as a person, hate his acts of venom, hatred against other communities……’his life is an achievement’ he deserves the award. by NDTV, i doubt…..

  5. R
    January 24, 2009

    Advani’s greatest achievement is bringing up an alternative to the congress party. In a working democracy it is necessary to have at least two strong parties — and Advani played a major role in developing the second party and thereby strengthening the Indian democracy. It would have been a shame if we did not have a party to challeng the Nehru-family dynasty rule. I am happy that we have at least one major party in India whose leaders are not decided by their family roots (Vajpayee, Advani, Modi etc have humble orignins)I am not surprised that Mr. Varadarajan did not note Advani’s opposition to Indiara Gandhi’s emergency and his contributions to fighting the emergency (freedom of the press then etc). It is clear that Varadarajan’s aim here is not a honest and sensible assessment of Advani’s contributions but simply defaming him.It is natural in a democracy that when one party (congress) tends to appease minorities, the second party, naturally, will represent the voice of the rest — namely the Hindu community. That is how democracy works. So BJP supporting Hindu causes is not a bad thing. In a democracy a balance is needed — where one party tries to voice the demands of one section while the other party tends to voice the demands of the rest. And Advani, all these years, raised the voice of large number of Indians in Indian parliament and outside — that is a lifetime achievement. I hope you have the senses to realize that.

  6. PR
    January 24, 2009

    Sorry to disappoint you Mr Sid but your hatered for Mr Advani has been overruled by the very PRESTIGUOUS jury panel of Ndtv like Anu Aga of Thermax, Shashi Tharoor, William Dalrumple, Nandan Nilekani. These are all very objective judges because even though they may be pro congress they have reognized the merits of Advaniji.And no, I am not Pranay Roy.

  7. Anonymous
    January 24, 2009

    It is sad that someone like Siddharth who doesn’t mince words about saying things as they are, gets flak for hitting the nail on the head. Which journalist worth her/his salt can call politicians for what they are these days? Especially those permanently ensconced in the corridors of power?

  8. Anonymous
    January 24, 2009

    <>Advani deserves all the brickbats he is getting here! That his party has killed innocents with a vengeance; yet the Indian media can think of awarding such people!<><><><>All those who are criticising Siddharth here are barking up the wrong tree.<><>By the way, who is PR in the above comments? Prannoy Roy in all probability! PR is busy making PR with politicians!<><>Last but not the least, Moniaka Halan may not be as clean as she has pretended in her letter. You can read about it in the anonymous comments on the popular pressmart blog. < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Click here for the same.<><><>Cheers!<>

  9. Anonymous
    January 24, 2009

    “On a separate note, I’m not sure newspapers and TV channels should be dishing out awards of this kind, especially to categories like politicians and businessmen — people from whom a certain distance is necessary if one’s coverage is to be truly objective”I agree wholeheartedly with that.But it is certainly a bit rich coming from a journalist who makes blanket statements of the following kind“Mr. Advani was widely acknowledged as being one of India’s worst Home ministers when he held the job between 1998 and 2004”Widely acknowledged? eh!…by whom?. comrade Prachanda?, or comrade karat?, or fellow comrades in the Hindu?“Actually, I’m pretty sure he was given this award as a consolation prize to make sure he attended the awards ceremony”Surely, instead of taking a cheap potshot like this, you could have cloaked your venom in a facade of inetellectualism- of the kind we are accustomed to in your columns in the Hindu.

  10. Anonymous
    January 23, 2009

    If “secular” = “anti-hundu” i am proud to be anti-secular!

  11. Atul Kasbekar
    January 23, 2009

    19 years to the 19th day of 1990: Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits– By Aditya Raj KaulVisit the Link – I wake and feel the fell of dark, not dayWhat hours, O what black hours we have spent… – Gerard Manley Hopkins 19th January 1990. Kashmir was breathing still; Kashmiri Pandits lay hidden like frightened pigeons in their own nest. Today on behalf of my fellow brothers and sisters, I wish to revisit the pain of my separation from my own home 19 years ago, when the cruel hands of Allah-Wallahs butchered members of my community for being idol worshipers, for rejecting the call for unholy jihad and for siding with their own nation India. The Islamic murderers played dire warnings from their Mosques which pierced each nerve of anybody who held a Hindu name. As the sun turned pale, exhortations became louder, and three taped slogans repeatedly played their terror: 'Kashmir mei agar rehna hai, Allah-O-Akbar kehna hai' (If you want to stay in Kashmir, you have to say Allah is great); 'Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa' (What do we want here? Rule of Shariah); 'Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao roas te Batanev san' (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men).The roots of this unparalleled tragedy are immersed in 1986 with a well-planned strategy to execute Hindus from the valley. By 1990, the population saw their age old temples turned to ruins and lives at risk. As Pakistan stepped up their campaign against India, new Islamic terror outfits suddenly mushroomed in the state. As Jamait-e-Islami financed all madarsas to poison them against the minority Hindus and India, Pakistan further dictated youth to launch Jihad against India. A terror strike so meticulously planned that its unprecedented display was terrifying. As camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) began to provide training to innumerable Muslim men, India witnessed the emergence of the bloodiest Kalashnikov culture in the valley. The victims- innocent and non-violent minority- the Kashmiri Pandits.The Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, abandoned his responsibilities and the administration, the state and people lay like cattle on an open road. The hidden fact of rigged elections in 1987 had by then become a lucid statement. Today 22 years later, Omar Abdullah takes position of the same majestic throne, though I wonder how efficiently he would carry forward the state of affairs. Will he like his father ruin the backbone of the state and leave the minority Hindus helpless as always, or will he rise above politics, religion to create space for Pandits in their valley? The unanswered question lingers on.When Farooq Abdullah escaped underground, Jagmohan took reigns as the governor of the state. Though not very competent to handle an already ruined socio-political situation, he as a mark of remarkable leadership helped Kashmiri Pandits receive safe shelter. Jagmohan charted out an exceptional strategy to counter Islamic fanatics and also opened his Durbar (Office) to public irrespective of time. He visited families of the martyred Hindus. About one such meeting with the family of Satish Tickoo, murdered by communal JKLF goon Bitta Karate , he wrote an outstanding excerpt in his book, 'My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir'- “In Habba-Kadal, except for the long row of our vehicles, nothing was seen on the streets. The afternoon rain appeared to have soaked the houses with depression. The few windows that were open were without even the usual dim light. The dark clouds overhead completed the picture of gloom… The house of Tickoo was like a shattered nest. Everything lay scattered. The grim atmosphere around told the tale more vividly…”He further wrote, “As I was about to leave, Satish's uncle who was a bit vociferous and assertive, insisted that I should go upstairs and see the family deity. I agreed. A calm majestic figure was soon visible. It looked so imposing even in the darkness… With tears in their eyes, the family members thanked me and the accompanying officers. We were all moved over the sad plight of the family”.However one excerpt that mirrored my anxiety of 19 years was composed in words by Jagmohan, “Looking at the compact and enmeshed houses, and the by-lanes which acted like fine threads of a well-knit fabric, I wondered how these families, who had all their Gods and Goddesses here, and had deep roots in the soil, could leave and settle in distant and unfamiliar lands. Sometimes life is unaccountably cruel. And we human beings have, perhaps, no option but to suffer – suffer in silence, or wail”.Satish Tickoo was not the lone martyr who fell to the bullets of so-called revolutionaries. Tika lal Taploo, Nilkanth Ganjoo, Sarla Bhat, and countless others followed the target list of JKLF and other Islamic Terror outfits backed by Pakistan financially, psychologically and politically. An absent government, collapsed administration, and a petrified community saw despondency set in. As the moonlight of January 19, 1990 wore itself out, despondency gave way to desperation. Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits across the valley decided to take an agonizing decision, to flee their homeland and save their lives and religion from rabid Jihadis……Thus took place a 20th century Exodus.Pandits left the valley, with an approximate statistics of more than three lakh and fifty thousand. Almost a thousand Pandit men, women and children were slaughtered to death in 1990 alone by these revolutionaries of Islam. Surprisingly on paper, official figures clogged at only 209 killed! Alas! Soon the J&K government shall disown the whole Pandit community as aborigines of Kashmir.In this 19th year, a few hundred frightened Pandits still live scattered across the valley in far flung areas hoping against hope for peace and their brethren to step on the snow once again.This 19th year embarks upon a history of bullets to makeshift camps in Jammu with torturous summer heat to snake and scorpion bites and finally dreadful diseases. Seven camps in Jammu are an uninhabitable asylum for around 50,000 Kashmiri Pandits. The only perceptible change is an upgradation of some to permanent structures.My heart bleeds when I watch communal turned pseudo-secular Kashmiri separatists grab the headlines while the plight of the Pandits remains a non-issue. It isn't the so-called Azaadi that the people of Kashmir desire. They long for an immediate crackdown on terrorists, an end to the separatist elements and those unbearable puppets in the Valley- all for normalcy to return. Though sidelined for now, the political patronage they enjoy could soon take the voices from the Hurriyat and JKLF spreading propaganda of terror and hatred to the frontlines of politics.An entire community uprooted from the land of their ancestors is today struggling for its identity. The weak-kneed Indian state shamelessly panders to Islamic terrorists and separatists who claim they are the final arbiters of Jammu and Kashmir's destiny. A part of India's cultural heritage is destroyed; a chapter of India's civilization has been erased. And, our jhola-wallah brigade of 'secular' activists unabashedly turns their back to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. To them I believe, 'Hindu sorrow, inflicted by Islamic terror' is a truth perhaps too harsh to accept. Thereby hangs a tragic tale that is completely wiped out from public memory.I am reminded of a stanza by a Jewish poet: '…without identity in a street nameless to me, I am a stranger: I am longings, I am fears. I am child longing to belong to his lost childhood and not be outside the present, always withdrawn, apart…'I'm as old as the terrorism in the Valley. In these 19 years, the only time I felt the breeze of my land was through the closed windows of my airplane. She beckons me and I am too desperate now to grab its serene quilt. My mother nature has summoned me, and I shall answer her call soon, very soon.Till then, in this 19th year of exile like the unanswered questions of our human rights …my struggle for existence also continues.

  12. Rahul Krishnan
    January 23, 2009

    Sir , The point lies in what you said . “True, I didn’t write on my blog about that then (there are loads of things I never get around to writing about), so go ahead and hang me… “. This issue does not deserve unnecessary attention. Did you ever understand Honorary PhD’s awarded to Shilpa shetty , Akshay Kumar and Co.? Most of the awards are just publicity gimmicks but its us who created this mess out of no where by paying unnecessary attention and creating unnecessary fuss. Its the same media which created a saint out of Saddam Hussein and now creating a holy religion named ” Hamas”. I understand the pain when Advani is presented with the award but the most logical solution is to neglect it. If you continue to make this the most prestigious lifetime achievement award in the country then next year they may be tempted to present it to raj Thackeray or Narendra Modi .

  13. Siddharth
    January 23, 2009

    @ Ram, AnonFor the record, I think it is pretty pathetic that NDTV and CNN-IBN gave their “politicians of the year” award in 2008 and 2007 to Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. I believe the Hindi word for those decisions is ‘chaploosi’. True, I didn’t write on my blog about that then (there are loads of things I never get around to writing about), so go ahead and hang me….Also, I’m not really questioning NDTV’s judgment. I was just listing out what I thought were Mr. L.K. Advani’s lifetime achievements. If you don’t think these are his achievements, tell me about it. But don’t act like the driver who, when caught jumping a traffic light, tells the cops, what about all those other guys who jumped the light before me?

  14. Anonymous
    January 23, 2009

    Anon @ 3:26,The point raised above is not about Manmohan Singh or Advani but the convenience with which journalists like Siddharth question (or not question) depending on who the protagonists are (or aren’t)! The correct English word I believe is Hypocrisy!

  15. Anonymous
    January 23, 2009

    @ Ram, Just because Siddharth didn’t write about Manmohan winning the award, doesn’t lessen his correct criticism of NDTV’s presentation of an award to LK Advani. Two important questions have been raised by him: a) How can the media and the government of the day have such a consanguinous relationship in terms of incentives and material awards?and b) By what justification does a communal politician, indicted and still chargesheeted under a criminal conspiracy case, get a “lifetime achievement award”? eh?

  16. Anonymous
    January 23, 2009

    Siddharth – You say“On a separate note, I'm not sure newspapers and TV channels should be dishing out awards of this kind, especially to categories like politicians and businessmen — people from whom a certain distance is necessary if one's coverage is to be truly objective. “Well Said! It makes us wonder why such sentiments were not expressed by you last year when the PM Dr Manmohan Singh was awarded the Leader of the Year Award. Surely no potential conflicts of interest probably, right!Like your critique on Mr Advani obviously also has a other picture, it would have been good if you had pointed out to Outlook's rejoinder – other point of view:“1.The Outlook Money awards have been in existence for the past seven years. Monika Halan herself has been on the jury in earlier years and has had no occasion to find fault. The marketing side of Outlook is not part of the jury; the editor always is. The OLM awards in contention were handed out in October and the editor's resignation has come in January, which tells its own story. Moreover, LIC was not the winner of the 2008 awards; SBI and ICICI were.“Just reinforces that if it is my blog, I can always present the side of the story that I like!Ram

  17. Srijith Unni
    January 23, 2009

    After all, it ‘s not the Best Politician Award. It is for Lifetime Achievement. He has spearheaded the BJP party and has always been a strong leader, who no matter right / wrong has taken decisions confidently and with conviction. Whatever lists you’ve made, the same can be made for any other political leader, who has as much experience as he has. I dont wholly support BJP, but you cannot reject the fact that only 1 congress leader has ever been as Strong as him, and that is Indira Gandhi. And you know for sure that we can make a similar list for her too. We need a Strong leader who has the steel authority to take the country forward, and I believe Advani is the MAN.! But this is hardly surprising, considering the fact that “The Hindu” has always toed the Congress Line.About your second point, though I wholly agree.

  18. Rahl Krishnan
    January 23, 2009

    I do agree that Mr. Advani doesn’t deserve this award. But tell me one single politician in this country who deserves this award. I know it will be a sad and hard fact that you can not find a non corrupt and able politician from over 100 crore Indians. Presenting just a part of the story is not enough . You must have had the courage to tell them that no one deserves this award. But you have done a pretty clean job resorting to a personal attack on Advani alone. Anyone who does not read your article can never believe you.

  19. scribina
    January 23, 2009

    “Any comments on Shiela Dixit winning an award? How many bombings in Delhi during her tenure? But she is from the Congress so it must be Ok for Siddharth! Hypocrite”sorry to nitpick. and of course let’s not allow facts to colour our emotions.But, I don’t know if you are aware, as far laws go, sheila dikshit has no control over law and order. Delhi Police is directly under the home ministry!

    January 23, 2009

    i think award for Mr.Advani is an indirect endorsement by NDTV as Prime ministerial candidate..

  21. Anonymous
    January 23, 2009

    Any comments on Shiela Dixit winning an award? How many bombings in Delhi during her tenure? But she is from the Congress so it must be Ok for Siddharth! Hypocrite!

  22. NK
    January 23, 2009

    To Anonymous number one: If being a proud Hindu means being what you are, then I am very proud to be pro “secular” scum

  23. NK
    January 23, 2009

    Siddharth,Brilliant piece on Advani the man who will never be PM. And what you said on the media giving out awards is spot on. A distance certainly needs to be maintained, and for the same reason I question whether jounrnalists should be accepting awards from the government as well.

  24. Srinivasan Ramani
    January 23, 2009

    Siddharth, Add this to Advani’s glories: a) Wholehearted support to the Modi government during the Gujarat Pogrom. b) Singlehandedly destroying any further movement on Indo-Pak relations during the Agra Summit. c)Shameless support to MPs who were caught red handed taking bribes (the cash for legislation scam), arguing against their suspensions. d) Presiding as the Leader of Opposition of a party, which destroyed parliament functioniong repeatedly during the past 5 years. Most of the blame for the pathetic performance of the legislature over these years must be unequivocally laid upon Shri Advani. e) As Home minister, he presided over the promulgation of India’s worst ever law, the heinous POTA and one can rhetorically argue that this law laid the ground for scores of violent radicals being born out of grievances in India itself. And this is just from memory!A lifetime achievement for him would be the effective maiming of India’s secular ethos and strength, making India a more difficult place for future generations to live for scores of minorities, as also those who are forced to engage in fear and hatred for the other. As for NDTV, well.. it is but expected.

  25. Anonymous
    January 23, 2009

    well this walk down the memory lane makes me wonder whats the difference between the < HREF="" REL="nofollow">mess that is pakistan<> and indian politics.

  26. Anonymous
    January 23, 2009

    boy, then you have seen very few home ministers!! if advani is your benchmark, god save this country of ours!– N

  27. PR
    January 23, 2009

    NDTV had their own jury to decide their awards and they have decided what it is.It is interesting to see how cheap you can get with silly allegations! Even if you were Mr. Advani, you couldn’t have done anything much better on the events you listed from no.2 to no.8. Advani was million times better than Shivraj patil and definitely better than any home minister I have seen!

  28. Ram
    January 22, 2009

    //On a separate note, I’m not sure newspapers and TV channels should be dishing out awards of this kind, especially to categories like politicians and businessmen — people from whom a certain distance is necessary if one’s coverage is to be truly objective//I agree. And I’m sure you had to make the point when the award was given to Advani and not before. Obviously first time a media house giving away an award to an undeserving personality.

  29. Anonymous
    January 22, 2009

    Siddharth,An excellent factual expose of Advani’s ‘iron rule’. One feels that we need more of such at your face examples to expose the shady elements in Indian politics. True, other politicians are no less bad but what makes Advani’s notoriety even more manifest is that through his actions, the character and nature of our polity has been threatened. The consequences of the Babri Masjid demolition will continue to sow hate\red and division. Yes, India is 80% Hindu but surely that is no reason for us to start behaving like some of our neighbours, for whom religion is an excuse, and at present – a Damocle’s sword. I am not sure what the above commentor means when s/he says ‘be a proud Hindu’! Does that mean butcher all and sundry, loot and pillage art galleries and worship cowards like the Thackerays and Modis? If so, I would rather not be a ‘proud Hindu’. But I am a Hindu and there are other things that cause me pride. And as regards India, secularim is not an option but a necessity. – N

  30. «charlie|thotti»
    January 22, 2009

    I too am flabbergasted. I was recently referred to his spanky new website where he wants to emulate Obama. Which will never happen because he has a history of anti-secularism.

  31. Anonymous
    January 22, 2009

    Are you a Congress dip $hit lackey? one of those anti-hindu , pro-“secular” scum? if so it will be a sad day for India. Grow up and be a proud pro hindu , country is 80% hindu.

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This entry was posted on January 22, 2009 by in Indian Politics, Media.



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