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“Winds of change will sweep India too”

Special Correspondent

Barack Obama’s success in U.S. presidential polls is a harbinger of hope, says Advani

— Photo: S.S. Kumar

BOOK RELEASED: The former Air Chief Marshal, S. Krishnaswamy (far right), receives the first copy of the Tamil version of BJP leader L.K. Advani’s autobiography “My Country, My Life,” from Swami Dayananda Saraswati at a function in Chennai on Wednesday. Mr. Advani and journalist ‘Cho’ Ramaswamy are also present.

CHENNAI: “Just as the winds of change have swept across the United States, I have no doubt that India too will witness change when the next parliamentary elections take place in a few months,” Bharatiya Janata Party president L.K. Advani said on Wednesday.

Addressing a packed crowd at the release of the Tamil version of his autobiography here, Mr. Advani evoked Barack Obama’s success in the American presidential elections as a harbinger of hope for India as well.

However, he also pointed out where India differed from America. While Mr. Obama’s election represented change partly due to his African-American heritage and his Muslim father, India had already elected three Muslim Presidents, which was not seen as extraordinary in a Hindu-majority country. “I believe that the reason lies in India’s national ethos,” Mr. Advani said, citing the examples of Jews, Muslims and Christians historically thriving under Hindu rulers.

Mr. Advani said India was always inclusive, it always rejected the idea of a theocratic state and never made any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, language or colour. “This is what I have called India’s cultural nationalism.”

Tracing Tamil Nadu’s part in India’s freedom and development, he cited the contributions of Veerapandiya Kattabomman, K. Kamaraj and Subramania Bharati, quoting the poet’s lines: “My Mother has thirty crore faces, but their body and soul is one. She speaks in eighteen languages, but the thought she expresses is one.”

Mr. Advani noted that the Supreme Court recently quoted the same lines while giving a judgment that he “wholeheartedly endorsed.” The judgment said, “India is not an association or a confederation of states. There is only one nationality and that is Indian. Therefore, every Indian has a right to go anywhere in India and a right to settle anywhere and do business of his choice anywhere peacefully.”

The book, “En Desam, En Vazhkai,” was translated into Tamil and released by the Alliance Company publishers, at the insistence of Tughlaq editor ‘Cho’ S. Ramaswamy. “No one else in Indian politics has the firmness of conviction that Advaniji has,” he said, adding All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa also displayed courage in expressing her opinions. “That is why I think it will be better if both parties contest together in the elections,” he said.

Bluntness lauded

N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, who felicitated Mr. Advani “on behalf of those who do not agree with his core ideology,” also praised the book’s bluntness and transparency.

Calling it the only autobiography, since Jawaharlal Nehru’s, which was written by a major political leader while still active in politics, Mr. Ram said he appreciated the attempt to square directly with the people by the man who “will become the next Prime Minister if the NDA and its allies make the requisite numbers in the 15th general election.”

The book was released by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, and the first copy was received by the former Air Chief Marshal, S. Krishnaswamy.

Copies were given to several eminent personalities, including actor Rajinikanth, whose house Mr. Advani visited before the function. Dancer Padma Subramaniam and Mr. Advani’s daughter Pratibha Advani offered their felicitations.

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