Chennai: What is common to L K Advani and K Anbazhagan? Well, within a span of seven days, both of them lost their close friend with whom they spent almost all their time for over seven decades.
If the demise of DMK patriarch and former chief minister M Karunanidhi has saddened Anbazhagan, the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has come a rude shock for Advani.
Though Advani and Anbazhagan belong to different camps and were ideologically poles apart, they can be proud that they spent their entire life with leaders people admire and adore.
An emotional Advani, said, “I have lost my soul mate. We were together for almost 70 years. Our journey began from the RSS. The friendship dates back to the 1950s. We stayed together in Jan Sangh. We had several moments of joy and sorrow then. I watched at very close quarters his hard work in ensuring that a first non-Congress government was formed at the Centre. I am proud to have been associated with him in almost all his endeavours.”
“During the period when he was (Vajpayee ) Prime Minister, if anyone went to him with a problem either of the government or the party, his invariable answer would be ‘Have you spoken to Advani? Please speak to him at once’, almost every time. This kind of friendship doesn’t exist anywhere,” Advani says, and adds, “And I remember those days, Rivoli and Regal (cinema halls in Delhi), in the middle was a golgappawala. We would go there and have chaat. Those days, I would drive the scooter and he (Vajpayee) would ride pillion. I was not particular about chaat. But he (Vajpayee) would sit beside the chaatwala and eat golgappas.”
In his blog, Advani wrote a few years ago that there have been 14 Prime Ministers of India since 1947 and Vajpayee’s most conspicuous trait was that he had no trace of ego or arrogance even after cardinal achievements. “It is, therefore, that while talking about the balance sheet of all Prime Ministers since 1947, I can say that he was by far the most outstanding of all.”
It was at a public meeting in Tiruvarur that Karunanidhi was introduced to Anbazhagan by DMK founder C N Annadurai. At the meeting, Anna asked a young student to address the gathering when Karunanidhi was present. The student was Anbazhagan. He became friends with Karunanidhi after that. They stood together in all their happy and sad moments till Karunanidhi’s death a few days ago.
Says Gomathy, a political observer, “Anbazhagan’s bonding with Karunanidhi was special. They used to spend over 15 hours together. They would discuss everything. On many occasion, Karunanidhi took advice from Anbazhagan. “
Anbazhagan became the general secretary of the DMK in 1977 and since then has held the post. “In the company of MK, he spearheaded several protests and fought for the rights of Tamils. He has served as Lok Sabha member, senior Minister in the DMK Cabinet at the request of Karunanidhi.”
“People likes Nedunchezhiyan and MGR, considered close to Karunanidhi, had to leave him at one point of time. But Anbazhagan chose to stand by him always. For Karunanidhi, Anna Arivalayam (headquarters of the DMK) was his second home. Anbazhagan was like his conscience. It was evident in the way Anbazhagan despite his age and fragile health, walked all the way and came to pay his last respects to Karunanidhi,” says Ravindran, a political analyst. Such kind of friendship is not possible in politics anymore, he adds.