BJP leader LK Advani’s Jan Chetna Yatra entered Punjab from Haryana to a lukewarm response to his mission of exposing corruption, misrule and stashing of black money abroad. Activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and their radical Sikh leader, Simranjit Singh Mann, besides some Muslim groups waved black flags at Advani’s rath (personalised bus) that in Bathinda was put on an unplanned route to avoid more opposition.
Police arrested more than 50 activists of the SAD(A) in Bathinda, and another group of 60 to 70 agitators from the SAD (Delhi), led by its state president, Jaswinder Singh Balliawal, at Jogewala village in Sirsa district of Haryana. “The people of our country are not corrupt. Only the leaders are.
Enough is enough, the country will not tolerate more,” Advani said to empty chairs and dreary faces at his first address in Punjab, at Pathrala village. Earlier, around noon, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Bathinda’s member of parliament, and top state leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Punjab unit president Ashwani Sharma and minister Tikshan Sud, welcomed Advani’s cavalcade at Doomwali on the Punjab-Haryana border.
Supported by the official machinery, the state’s ruling combine of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP has made elaborate arrangements for the success of the yatra’s Punjab leg. In the next two days before entering Jammu and Kashmir, Advani will be a virtual state guest instead of a people’s campaigner.
State officials far outnumbered the participants at his Jan Chetna rallies at Pathrala village and Bathinda. The low turnout at the Advani rallies was an embarrassment for the organisers, and the ruling alliance in the state. At the first gathering at Pathrala on the Haryana border, Advani said the 21st century belonged to India, if she could bring Rs 25 lakh crore black money stashed in foreign banks back into the country. “If 2010 was a year of scams, 2012 will be the year of accountability for the UPA (United Progressive Alliance,” said Advani.
“The British robbed India of only Rs 1 lakh crore in 200 years but the Congress, in its 50-year rule, has cleaned the country of Rs 25 lakh crore,” said Advani. He ridiculed the UPA-2 government on the 2G-spectrum, Commonwealth Games, and Adrash Society scams, and avowed to bring back black money stashed away abroad to provide the countrymen with electricity, water, and other basic facilities. “Bhrashtachar mitayenge, kala dhan vapis layenge, naya Bharat desh banayenge (We’ll end corruption, bring back black money, and make India a new country),” said Advani. “This is my sixth (countywide) yatra since the Ram Rath campaign of 1990.
The latest got greater response than all other yatras, for people have lost faith in the country’s potential. The biggest achievement of this yatra will be to restore their confidence.” At Pathrala, Advani’s slogans of “Jai Bharat” and “Vande Matram” failed to get crowd behind him. Local MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal said her party supported Advani because his mission was against price rise, corruption, and unemployment, which “the Congress-led UPA government had failed to address.”