The session was titled India’s Yatra Into The Future, and the man addressing it was none other than senior BJP leader and perennial yatri LK Advani.
But at the very outset he put out the disclaimer — he was going to make a brief reference to his yatras, but mainly because that was the theme of the session. And so he did.
Delivering the keynote address on Day 2 of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Advani defended his penchant for going on political yatras.
“These yatras have been for me an invaluable education, and has enabled me to serve the country’s politics far more effectively than I could have otherwise,” he claimed. And went on to add that each yatra addressed an “important sub-theme”.
According to Advani, the Ram Rath Yatra of 1990 questioned some of the basic assumptions and practices that went, and continued to go, under the name of secularism. “It sought to set right the distortions in our understanding of what constitutes India’s nationalism. For I believe that a nation that does not have a sound knowledge of its past cannot create the right future for itself.”
As for his Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra of 1997, which coincided with the golden jubilee of India’s independence, Advani said it had “twin aims”. “Firstly, it was aimed at honouring all the heroes of our glorious freedom movement…Its second equally important aim was to make people aware of the need to transform our swaraj into su-raj — self-governance into good governance.”
The very latest Jan Chetna Yatra also harped on good governance though it sought to highlight another related imperative, namely, clean politics, said Advani.
But while chronicling past journeys for his audience, the octogenarian leader clarified, “…no journey forward can ignore the road left behind. Every good driver knows that he not only has to have a clear view of the road ahead, but also keep looking at the rear-view mirror.”