BY Harsimran Kaur  ON Feb 26 , 2021  IN BOOK REVIEWS, Jugalbandi

We know Vajpayee as an eloquent orator, a man of fastidious intelligence and a conscientious opinion maker. He was extensively supported by Advani – timid and apprehensive about decision making, and a man who blossomed under the tutelage of Vajpayee. They played their respective tunes to collectively form a rhythm that defined their years of political success challenged by some pitfalls, and a personal camaraderie shaken by anomalous ideologies within the party.  But still their Jugalbandi is credence to emulate.

The book written by Vinay Sitapati is informative and gives its readers a platform to introspect about the achievements and debacles of the Vajpayee government. The era of Vajpayee-Advani defined the future course of the party to be led by Narendra Modi-Amit Shah. Where the former duo was moderate in their opinions and ideologies of Hindutva, the latter are an extreme in their approach towards Hindu nationalism. They all belonged to the sheltering carapace of RSS but came out of woods with their own distinct mental capacities.

The author is explicit in giving Hindu nationalism an orientation arising from one man –one vote doctrine. With Hindu majority curtaining a large part of the country, it was imperative to win electorates by colonializing the Hindu mind-set, which had been handicapped by disharmony and disgruntlements within the community. This undercurrent of hope led to extension of the Sangh Parivar – VHP, ABVP, BJP and NDA – as the author has stated, RSS was the glue to cement all these parties.

The narrative is about Vajpayee-Advani and how they managed the turbulent affairs of the Mandal Commission, the aberrated Ayodhya dispute and Babri Masjid annihilation, the egregious Kargil war, the condemnable Gujarat riots and perennial Kashmir issue. The appreciative moments landing in their lap range from the Bus diplomacy – journey from Delhi to Lahore, and giving India a Nuclear Power credential.


Politics is about ME, MYSELF and MY EGO. But Vajpayee-Advani Jugalbandi was an allegiance to the party first before their self-asserting ideologies. Many times, we will come across in the book, how both gentlemen acted as a cocoon for each other and camouflaged a mask to keep the road clear for the other to trot respectfully. From the parliamentary speeches to the ground reality of politics, from poignant defeats to an indefatigable win, and from following a Nehruvian policy to accepting Hindu fundamentalism, the book is a reservoir of facts and follies to regulate the largest democracy in the world.

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