BJP patriarch LK Advani’s “anti-corruption” rath yatra is now likely to begin from Sitabdiara in Saran district, Bihar, which is also the birthplace of Jayaprakash Narayan. It will begin on October 11, JP’s birth anniversary, and end in Delhi on November 20.
An alternative plan, which was discussed earlier, was to begin the yatra from Karamsad in Gujarat, the birthplace of Sardar Patel. But Bihar has now found favour with the veteran leader, say highly placed sources.
This has also led to intense speculation on why the venue was changed. While a BJP leader claimed that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi – who is believed to be nursing national ambitions – was not too happy with Advani’s projection from his home turf, another leader said it was entirely Advani’s own decision.
At a time when there is buzz that Advani may suggest at the Sangh’s bidding that he is not vying for the top post through his yatra, a BJP office-bearer said: “Advani wants to project himself as a consensus candidate for allies by starting from Bihar, a state whose CM Nitish Kumar is a known Modi-baiter. Also, he wants to become the fulcrum of the anti-Congress mood, much like JP himself, by evoking JP.”
But a key Advani aide gave a singular reason to begin from Bihar: “We felt that since it is on JP’s birth anniversary that we are starting the yatra, we should stick to the JP symbolism rather than mix things up.”
While speculation is rife about who among Advani, Modi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari would lead the party in the 2014 polls, the names of Modi and Advani are attracting more buzz at the moment, thanks to the fast and the proposed yatra.
With the BJP’s national executive meeting is slated for September 30 and October 1 in Delhi itself, the debate over who would emerge as the party's prime ministerial candidate is set to rage again.