BJP patriarch LK Advani started the second day of his Jan Chetna Yatra (People’s Awareness Campaign) on Wednesday by paying floral tributes to socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia in Patna on his death anniversary.
His emphasis on the points of ‘convergence’ between the socialists and the Jana Sangh, the BJP’s predecessor, was unmistakable.
The first day — Jaya Prakash Narayan’s birth anniversary — had been all about the other socialist stalwart popularly known as JP. These are being seen as Advani’s attempts at an image makeover aimed at projecting himself as the fulcrum of the BJP — and opposition — politics at a time when inflation and Anna Hazare’s campaign have put the spotlight on governance and corruption.
Advani’s rath (a modified bus) rolled from Patna to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, via Arrah, Buxar and Chandauli (UP), but public enthusiasm was decidedly lower than on the first day.
“Misgivings were spread against the Jana Sangh. But Lohia and then JP truly understood the Jana Sangh and helped people know it better,” Advani told reporters as he sought the pro-poor legacy of the socialist icons.
On the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the next elections, Advani repeated it was for the party to decide who would lead it. He added “aspiration” did not mean candidature and recalled he had not announced his candidature in 2009 too.
Advani, however, objected to his campaign being linked to the PM post and not corruption. Senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were present when Advani made his views known in Patna.
Asked about the Ram temple, Advani said, “The (Allahabad) high court had virtually endorsed our position. I hope the Supreme Court will endorse the high court ruling.”
He said he had announced a year back in Somnath that he would cease his annual visits after the high court ruling.