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Advani sets off on anti-graft yatra
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

LK’s Earlier Yatras

n Advani's first yatra was in 1990 which was the Ram Rath Yatra and it started from Somnath for Ayodhya. He was, however, arrested in Samastipur in Bihar by the then Chief Minister Lalu Prasad. The yatra built up the Ram Mandir movement
n Advani undertook the Janadesh Yatra in 1993
n Swarna Jayanti Yatra in 1997 when India completed 50 years of independence. A year later, the BJP formed the government at the Centre
n Bharat Uday Yatra in 2004
n Bharat Suraksha Yatra in 2006

Patna, October 11
It was a moment of vindication for LK Advani. The man, riding the chariot of his supreme popularity on the wave of Ram Mandir agitation in 1990, had been stopped at Samastipur by the then Chief Minister Lalu Prasad. And today, Advani was anointed by the present Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as a non-controversial leader, fit to rid the nation of all corruption.

And Nitish’s seal of approval to Advani's 7,600 km Jan Chetna Yatra across 23 states clearly enthused the BJP all the way from Chhapra where it was flagged off for Patna, where Advani spent his first night out on this 38-day trip, after addressing a public rally at Gandhi Maidan, chaperoned by his caring daughter Pratibha.

The Bihar BJP erected 84 arches, corresponding to Advani’s age, from Chhapra to Patna and enthusiastic BJP supporters stood there to greet Advani. Earlier, Advani accompanied by Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar took a flight to Patna where they was joined by Nitish Kumar and Ravi Shankar Prasad to be airlifted to Sitab Diara in helicopters to pay obeisance to JP Narayan on his birth anniversary.

If Advani was attempting to project himself as JP and VP (Singh) rolled into one, the NDA show here supplemented his efforts adequately. Curiously, the first one to hail Advani's yatra was none other than Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, sitting faraway in Gandhinagar, who in his blog last night first recalled how Advani was stopped by one CM and how today, another CM of the same state was going to flag off his yatra.

Modi also paid Advani a back-handed compliment reminding him of his age, but commending his stamina. Simultaneously, he also tried dismissing any suggestion of Advani emerging as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

But Modi set the tone for Nitish vs Lalu and the BJP leaders, including Sushma Swaraj, remembered how the unseating of Lalu Prasad and the rise of Nitish Kumar had restored Advani's eminence in the eyes of Biharis. Swaraj thanked Nitish saying, “You brought back a pardesi (outsider)” without naming Advani though.

Nitish went to great lengths to justify his participation in this BJP show on a day when Lalu Prasad’s RJD held demonstrations in Patna opposing Advani's yatra, recalling his role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

The JD-U leader told Advani, “You have done so many yatras, but this is different. I am happy to welcome you here because you have raised a relevant and burning issue of corruption and are articulating the anger of the people against the corrupt deeds of this government. I don’t know why some people are looking at your yatra differently. Perhaps they are afraid of your campaign against corruption.”

Significantly, it was finally left to Advani to acknowledge that, “The Congress alone is not to blame for corruption. There are shortcomings in my party as well, which I honestly admit. My yatra is not against the Congress alone, but the entire system.”





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