Before embarking on the second phase of his 38-day journey, BJP leader LK Advani on Thursday rejected criticism that through the yatra, he was seeking to repackage himself.
"Frankly, I do not quite understand why I would like to repackage myself. Also, I would wish to stress with all the emphasis at my command that this yatra has nothing to do with LK Advani. Nor even with the BJP or the next elections. It is concerned essentially with India," he said.
Writing in his latest blog, while on a two-day Diwali break from the "anti-corruption" yatra, he said his campaign was aimed at reinfusing among people the confidence they had lost in India's glory due to the "failings" of the UPA government.
"My yatra is to reinfuse confidence in the people that the failings of the UPA should not be allowed to demoralise the country, and that we the people should concentrate on making the twenty-first century India’s century in spite of all the failures of the UPA," Advani said.
Blaming the Congress-led coalition for the recent scandals, he said that in the last couple of decades, India had earned a reputation as a remarkable democracy and a country on its way to becoming a major economic power in the 21st century.
Again hammering India's cause, which, he said, had been damaged due to UPA's corruption, he said, "The sense of confidence and self-esteem that had been building up in the people has been seriously undermined because of the happenings of this last year--numerous scams surfacing, several central ministers being removed and even jailed because of corruption, and the cash-for-votes scandal in which instead of the bribe-givers, it was the whistle-blowers, who had exposed the scandal, who have been put behind bars."
Harping on the cause of "Mother India", Advani said that the ongoing yatra received greater support than even the Rama Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya.
He said he placed people's sense of "rashtra bakti" (patriotism) above even the BJP's pet poll plank of "Ram Bhakti".
"This yatra is my sixth one. Two of my six yatras that evoked a greater response than even the Ram Rath yatra were the Swarna Jayanti Yatra of 1997 and this Jana Chetana Yatra of 2011.
"This last one has really set an all-time record not only in respect of the rallies formally organised during the yatra, but even in respect of the numbers who lined up all along the route of the Rath," Advani wrote, seeking to play to people's sense of Indianness rather than their political affiliations.
Making a reference to Swami Vivekenanda, Advani sought to lend an apolitical colour to his yatra by saying that Mother India was greater than all the Gods.
"I have said it in some of my speeches that if Rama Bhakti has an appeal for the average Indian, Rashtra Bhakti (patriotism) has no less an appeal....
"I have often been recounting a speech delivered by Swami Vivekananda in 1897 at Madras after his return from a visit to Europe in the course of which he observed: For the next fifty years, this alone shall be our keynote – this, our great Mother India. Let all other vain Gods disappear for the time from our minds."
The BJP leader qualified the reference to Vivekananda by observing, "The exhortation of the great saint was made in 1897.
"Next fifty years, he had said. What a prescient remark; Independence came precisely in 1947, exactly fifty years later!"