BJP leader LK Advani on Tuesday kicked off his Rath Yatra to create public awareness against corruption, a move seen more as an attempt to stage come-back as a prospective prime ministerial candidate in 2014 elections.
Advani started his Yatra from Jayaprakash Narayan’s birth place Sitab Diara in Bihar, bordering Uttar Pradesh. The 12,000-km journey covering 300 km every day will take the BJP leader across the country mobilising public opinion on electoral and judicial reforms, black money and corruption scams faced by the UPA government, said the party in a statement.
However, Advani was evasive when he was asked about the prime ministerial candidate. “Who will be the prime ministerial candidate? The party will decide when the polls come. It is still more than two years away. However, the government is functioning in a manner that it seems it can fall any time,” he said at a press conference.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and also leader of BJP ally Janata Dal United has flagged off Advani’s yatra, while Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi quickly released an open letter supporting the yatra. “I believe that this “Jan Chetna Yatra” against corruption will change India’s future. I have faith that this effort being undertaken by Advaniji, at such a senior age, will not go in vain,” he said.
Ironic though, Congress is not worried as much as the inner BJP circles, especially the second rung leaders who were waiting for elevation to the country’s top post if the party wins in the next general elections. Moreover, Advani had undertaken similar Yatras in the past with limited impact.
Here’s a glance at Advani’s Rath Yatras in the past.
Ram Rath Yatra: Sept. – Oct. 1990:
The BJP launched a movement in 1989 demanding a temple at the site of the Babri Masjid where, it said quoting sources that a temple stood till Babur’s invasion of India in 1528. Advani embarked on his first “Rath Yatra” to mobilize “karsevaks” to meet at the Babri Masjid. the yatra that started from Somnathpur in Gujarat was stopped in Bihar by then Chief Minister of Bihar, Laloo Prasad Yadav.
Janadesh Yatra, 1993:
Advani took upon his second yatra seeking the people’s mandate against the two Bills — the Constitution 80th Amendment Bill and the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill — aimed at secularism and banning religious overtones in politics. The bills were later stalled in Parliament and the debate was deferred.
Bharat Uday Yatra : March – April 2004:
This was essentially an election-oriented campaign ahead of the elections to the 14th Lok Sabha, which saw NDA, the ruling alliance led by BJP lost majority and Congress came back to power.
Bharat Suraksha Yatra – April 6 – May 10, 2006:
The yatra was undertaken by Advani and then BJP president Rajnath Singh to “safeguard National Security from jehadi terrorism and left-wing extremism” and to “protect the poor and farmers from inflation and unemployment. Advani’s Yatra covered the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi, while Rajnath Singh’s Yatra covered the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.
Jan Chetna Yatra – Oct.- Nov, 2011:
Advani began his 38-day Jan Chetna Yatra from Sitabdiara in Bihar, the birthplace of Jayaprakash Narayan, the leader who fought the draconian emergency rule in the mid 1970s.
The yatra was targeted at corruption in the Congress-led UPA government and also to press for repatriation of black money. “I am formally launching my Jan Chetna Yatra against corruption and for bringing back black money stashed in foreign banks,” Advani said ahead of his yatra that was flagged off by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.