Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee feels that L K Advani has been 'misunderstood' and become a 'victim' of the dichotomy between images of a hardliner and the reality.
Recalling his association with the BJP prime ministerial candidate, Vajpayee said Advani has been his 'friend and comrade-in-arms' ever since he started working for the Bharatiya Jana Sangh over 50 years ago.
In a foreword in Advani's new book My country my life released on Wednesday, Vajpayee said the BJP leader had made an 'enduring contribution' to a vigorous debate on 'genuine secularism'.
Vajpayee, who has been ailing for sometime and keeping out of public gaze, sought to allay impression of Advani as a hardliner in the party.
'During the course of his long, and inarguably eventful, political life, Advaniji has, at times, been misunderstood and as a result become a victim of the dichotomy between image and reality,' he wrote.
Vajpayee said those who have worked or interacted with Advani know him as a man who has never compromised on his core belief in nationalism, and yet has 'displayed flexibility in political responses whenever it was demanded by the situation'.
Advani all praise for RSS
Advani, who drew the RSS' ire over the infamous Jinnah episode not so far ago, was all praise of the Sangh fountainhead at the book launch, even crediting it with influencing his thinking and nature.
At the release of his no-holds-barred memoir, Advani said basis of his ideology was formed at the age of 14 when he joined the RSS.
Recalling his life-long association with the RSS, he said the outfit 'influenced my thinking, my nature. Shortcomings are there many. But if there are any positives virtues, I owe it to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.'
The Leader of the Opposition said his ideological family and personal family provided him happiness and meaning to his life.
On his part, RSS Sahkaryavah Mohan Bhagwat said Advani's life was an example of a good swayamsevak.
The memoir talks extensively about his relationship with A B Vajpayee, the failed Agra summit, Kargil war, Jinnah episode and the Ayodhya movement, which catapulted him to the centrestage of Indian politics.
Releasing the book, former President A P J Abdul Kalam said its message was of endearment to the nation.
Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh felt the book was timely as 'we live in a period of great political disorder, cultural confusion and terrible famine of values.'