M A I N   N E W S

In Punjab, bumpy yatra for Advani 
Cancelled press meets at Ludhiana, Amritsar; likely to do the same at Pathankot today
Naveen S Garewal/TNS

Chandigarh, November 15
Unlike in other BJP-ruled states, Punjab has proved to be a disappointment for senior party leader LK Advani. He not only had to face black flags and eggs, even the BJP alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) remained distant. The Jan Chetna Yatra that will exit Punjab tomorrow has left Advani a bitter man, not only due to the lacklustre response, but also because of the infighting and disarray in his own party.

The yatra was aimed at highlighting the issue of corruption in the country, but since both BJP and SAD leaders in the state are themselves facing several charges on that count, Advani chose to avoid embarrassment and cancelled his press conferences at Ludhiana and Amritsar and is likely to do the same at Pathankot tomorrow.

Black flags shown by activists of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), which is led by Simranjit Singh Mann, and some Muslim groups did not make any dent, but the party feels the SAD could have ensured better “sanitisation” on the routes the yatra had to follow.

Besides, the factionalism in the party and rampant charges of corruption against some BJP ministers put Advani on the defensive over the past three days.

Advani’s own general in Punjab and leader of the BJP in the Vidhan Sabha Tikshen Sud has been accused by officers of the Forest Department (that he headed earlier) of irregularities and a case pertaining to that was pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. This was one reason Advani shied away from the media to skirt the issue of his own party men facing corruption charges.

Advani did not get a very warm welcome in most parts of Punjab, except at Jalandhar. In rallies at Amritsar, Ludhiana and Bathinda, a large number of chairs remained empty. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, known for his organisational skills stayed away from “BJP’s internal programme”.

Badals were also not present to receive Advani when he entered Punjab through Dabwali. 





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