Lal Krishna Advani was born in Karachi, British India (present day Pakistan) on November 8, 1927. He finished his schooling from St Patricks, Karachi and graduated from Dayaram Gidumal National College, Hyderabad in 1944. He went on to study law from Government Law College, Mumbai.
Advani joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) when he was just 14 years old, and rose in the ranks to become the president of the organisation in 1947. Following this, he oversaw the affairs of the RSS in Rajasthan's Alwar, Kota, Bharatpur, Bundi and Jhalawar.
He went on to become a member of the Jan Sangh and held the position of secretary of Delhi state Jan Sangh from 1958-63. It was during this period that he became a close aide of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
In 1970, Advani became a member of the Rajya Sabha from Delhi. Two years later, in 1972, he was made the president of the working committee of the Jan Sangh. After being arrested in 1975 during the Emergency, the Bharatiya Janata Party was formed in 1977, comprising of a number of a number of parties who were against the Emergency.
When Morarji Desai took over as prime minister in 1977, Advani was appointed Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting in March of that year. He was appointed president of the BJP in May 1986. He held this position till 1988.
Advani has undertaken a number of yatras throughout the country. The most famous of these is the Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, in 1990. The yatra began on September 25 and was to culminate at Ayodhya on October 30. The yatra continued uninterrupted until it was stopped in Bihar by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Laloo Prasad Yadav. Advani was arrested on October 23 in Samastipur, Bihar.
On December 6, 1992, Advani was part of a large rally organised by the RSS at Ayodhya, which also involved BJP and VHP kar sevaks. The rally turned violent, and ultimately led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid, in an attempt to reclaim the land known as Ram Janmabhoomi. The demolition of the 16th-century mosque resulted in several months of communal riots between India's Hindu and Muslim communities, causing the death of at least 2,000 people.
Advani held several important posts, including that of the home minister in the BJP government in 1988, and the deputy prime minister from 1999 to 2004.
He was considered next in line as the most powerful leader after Vajpayee within the BJP. He was the official prime ministerial candidate of the BJP in the 2009 general elections.
In 2014, despite being a senior leader of the BJP, Advani had to step aside to make way for the new prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. Despite facing several problems with other leaders within the party, Advani chose to stay on, unlike another senior leader, Jaswant Singh, who quit. Advani even agreed to contest the 2014 general elections from Gandhinagar, Gujarat, though it was initially against his wishes.