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Bumpy ride for Advani

Eighteen hours of Maharashtra proved too much of an ordeal for Deputy PM L.K. Advani. The yatra?s passage in the state was a story of snubs, desertions, thin crowds and a rasta roko which the Black Cats just managed to overcome.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2004 15:17 IST

Eighteen hours of Maharashtra proved too much of an ordeal for Deputy PM L.K. Advani. The yatra’s passage in the state was a story of snubs, desertions, thin crowds and a rasta roko which the Black Cats just managed to overcome.

At the end of his two-day visit that saw two rallies (at Solapur and Omerga), Advani’s camp was feeling the pressure that has been put on the BJP by the coming together of the Congress and the NCP.

The BJP MP from Solapur, Pratap Sinh Mohite-Patil, went missing after being persuaded to do so by the NCP chief Sharad Pawar. The crowds did not show up. And state BJP leaders did not bother to brief Advani on the people’s demands.

As a result, Advani fell back on a negative campaign, ridiculing the Congress-NCP combine. He said the Congress would probably never rule again, and would have to be content with playing the role of the opposition.

But what really added to his discomfort was the rasta roko by the Chawa Sangathan, a Maratha organisation that is feared even more than the Shiv Sena for its militancy.

Activists broke through the heavy police cordon and blocked his path in Omerga. The Marathas wanted to be included in the Other Backward Classes category.

“Advaniji must have heaved a big sigh of relief,” said a senior BJP leader after the Deputy Prime Minister headed off towards Andhra Pradesh.

First Published: Mar 26, 2004 18:48 IST