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Advani asks NDA MPs to come clean on black money
Faraz Ahmad/TNS

New Delhi, November 20
Completing his marathon 7,600 km, 40-day Jan Chetna Yatra across the country at the Ramlila Maidan here, 84-year-old LK Advani firmly established himself as the unchallenged Number One leader in the BJP, with party president Nitin Gadkari anointing him as ‘The Leader’.

“We promise here that till we get the black money back in India, the BJP will continue its struggle under your (Advani’s) leadership. This is only a trailer. The real war has just started and we shall not rest in peace till we remove this government and install our government,” Gadkari announced.

Speaking immediately after Gadakri, Advani said: “Within a week of the start of Parliament’s winter session on November 22, all 215 NDA MPs will give a declaration that they do not possess any bank account or illegal wealth abroad. It will read: "I solemnly declare that I do not have directly or indirectly any bank account or asset illegally held outside India,” said Advani, who toured 22 states and five union territories.

Advani said the declaration would be handed over by Lok Sabha MPs to Speaker Meira Kumar and Rajya Sabha MPs to Chairman Hamid Ansari.

Surprised NDA convener Sharad Yadav looked askance as Advani turned around for fellow NDA leaders to approve his idea. Yadav turned to Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who looked at Deputy BJP leader in the Rajya Sabha SS Ahluwalia and he rushed to Advani.

Immediately, there was a scene change. The five cash-for-vote accused -- three MPs, Sudheendra Kulkarni and Suhail Hindustani -- walked on to stage to greet the audience. Advani, too, changed the subject, but not before demonstrating that he sets the Opposition agenda.

In 2009, the Sangh had counselled Advani to behave like an elder statesman, guiding the Gen Next from behind the screen. The RSS forced him to relinquish the Leader of Opposition post. The two Gen Next leaders -- Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitley in the Upper House -- took formal command of the Opposition in both Houses.

But Advani defeated all attempts to marginalise him by becoming the chairman of the parliamentary party. The Sangh again tried to send the message across by appointing the young and fresh Nitin Gadkari as the party president.

Advani then dropped a bombshell on September 9, the last day of the Parliament’s monsoon session, by unilaterally announcing his decision to set out on another rath yatra to mobilise public opinion against the corrupt practices of the UPA Government.

That immediately set off speculation that Advani had thrown his hat in the ring for the BJP’s prime ministerial candidature. Many inside and outside the BJP/Sangh were hoping that Advani may pull out of the PM’s race, but Gadkari’s declaration and today’s show demonstrated that the party would be led by Advani again.

And to celebrate this occasion, Advani’s entire clan was sharing the dais with him. Wife Kamla, daughter Pratibha, who travelled with him throughout the 40-day yatra, and even son Jayanth were present.

This rally was billed as an NDA event for which Shiv Sena working president Udhav Thackeray, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and new ally Haryana Janhit Congress chief Kuldip Bishnoi were invited. BJP Chief Ministers were asked to stay away on the plea that “with such important NDA leaders coming, there may be no time and space to accommodate so many speakers”.

But Udhav sent Anant Geete, Sukhbir asked his Delhi unit president Manjit Singh to attend and the Haryana Janhit Congress did not respond! Recent convert, Republican Party chief Ramdas Athawale, was there promptly offering his support to Advani as Prime Minister but with a precondition: “You (Advani) decide who will be the PM, but I should get two at least two ministries.”

However, the presence of Left ally AIADMK leader Thambidurai more than made up for the absence of NDA leaders.

“I have been specially sent by my leader Jayalalithaa to congratulate you on this great effort you have made to fight corruption. You have to throw out this corrupt government and usher in a good government which will end all corruption,” said Thambidurai.

(with PTI inputs)

yatra over

  • BJP stalwart ends 40-day yatra at Delhi, establishes his pre-eminence in party
  • AIADMK warms up to BJP, Jaya sends emissary

Cong rubbishes graft charge

The Congress rubbished BJP leader LK Advani's charge that the UPA government lacked the political will to bring back black money stashed abroad. “It is ironical those who did nothing to bring back black money despite being in power for six years are blaming the Congress-led UPA government, which has done everything on the issue,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said. — PTI





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