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Bumpy ride for Advani, Rajnath

The chariots are on their way but Day 2 of the BJP yatra was a bumpy one. For one, the air-conditioning of party chief Rajnath Singh's rath conked out on Friday.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 03:45 IST

The chariots are on their way but Day 2 of the BJP yatra was a bumpy one. For one, the air-conditioning of party chief Rajnath Singh's rath conked out on Friday, hurling him into the blistering Orissa summer. But it was the original rath crusader, LK Advani, who drifted through central Gujarat listlessly, without a resonant issue to hold his audience.

Crowds lined up villages and towns to hear the former deputy prime minister, but the size of the gatherings and their enthusiasm paled in comparison to the reception chief minister Narendra Modi's Gujarat Gaurav Yatra had got ahead of the 2002 assembly elections. Gujarat then was sharply riven along communal lines -- the explosive mixture Modi needed for his rabble-rousing experiments. Now, more humdrum matters have taken over and the grandeur of a yatra seems to be out of touch with reality. Sensing the mood, Advani kept his speeches short and peppered his speeches with remarks on important local issues.

In the Patel hinterland of Dehgam in Gandhinagar district, for example, he invoked Sardar Patel's legacy but the temple town of Dakore, he lambasted the Centre's policy of minority appeasement -- the main theme of his journeys.

In smaller, rural venues like Anasen and Tenpur, the BJP leader struck an agrarian chord, criticising the Centre's decision to import 15 lakh tonnes of wheat when farmers are committing suicide.

In Orissa, Rajnath Singh shrugged of the technical snafus. " I have got tremendous response all along the way. And these technical failures do not bother me much." In the interior areas of Angul and Deogarh districts, awe-struck villagers gawked at the cavalcade. Rajnath did not stray from the script--- criticising the UPA government in providing security. So far, the yatra has evoked a good response. But the real test will come when he moves out of BJD-BJP strongholds.