Advani may embark on rath yatra from Gujarat | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Advani may embark on rath yatra from Gujarat

delhi Updated: Sep 13, 2011 01:31 IST
Vikas Pathak

BJP patriarch LK Advani is likely to begin his rath yatra against corruption from Sardar Patel's birthplace Karamsad in Anand district of Gujarat on Jayaprakash Narayan's birth anniversary, October 11.

It will culminate in Delhi on November 20, just ahead of the winter session of Parliament.

A BJP office-bearer told HT that the yatra would cover Maharashtra, Karnataka - where the BJP government has been accused of corruption - Tamil Nadu, Andamans and Kerala. After a short festival break, the yatra will proceed to Orissa, Bengal, Assam, Manipur, Jharkhand, Bihar, UP, apart from Rajasthan and Punjab. There are likely to be two public meetings in the morning and two in the evening.

There will be a special vehicle (rath) but Advani will also have to fly in-between.

A key Advani aide said this was a tentative plan.

The reactions in the party to the yatra are mixed: while some welcome this bid to take on the Congress on the anti-corruption plank, others see this as Advani's bid to re-position himself as the party's prime ministerial candidate.

The rath (chariot) - which has a clear Hindu cultural symbolism - is a reminder to the Ram Rath Yatra that catapulted Advani and the BJP to the national stage two decades ago. Sardar Patel's figure is one around which Advani has carefully projected himself over decades: as a "strong" leader, a "lauh purush".

The JP movement of the 1970s too remains crucial for the politics of the BJP and its predecessor Jana Sangh, as it was the party's first brush with secular, civil libertarian politics, as distinct from a narrower Hindutva-based politics.

This is the BJP veteran's sixth rath yatra.

The late Pramod Mahajan had first suggested the "rath yatra" to Advani, who accepted it though he first thought it to be too "theatrical".

Some sullen leaders said they feared BJP's own "skeletons" may tumble out of the cupboard, asking why Ananth Kumar was made the convener of the yatra and why Bangaru Laxman attended the office-bearers' meet to plan it in his capacity as "ex-president".