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Yatras: BJP?s revival route

Another crisis, another yatra. From Ram Rath to Bharat Uday, this instrument of popular contact has marked the rise as well as the fall of the BJP.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 05:20 IST

Another crisis, another yatra. From Ram Rath to Bharat Uday, this instrument of popular contact has marked the rise as well as the fall of the BJP. Its first procession, L.K. Advani's Ram rath yatra in 1990, catapulted the party into the political centrestage during the Ayodhya agitation. The India Shining trip cost it the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

Whenever the party has appeared to lose steam, it has fallen back on a yatra to whip public sentiment. The Ram Rath yatra began in the thick of the Mandal crisis, from Somnath on September 25, 1990 and was supposed to culminate at Ayodhya on October 30. The choice of Somnath was significant, considering it was the temple rebuilt in 1950 at the initiative of Sardar Patel as a symbol of resurgent nationhood.

Political events that began with Lalu Prasad Yadav's government arresting Advani at Samastipur in Bihar led to the fall of the V P Singh government. The BJP romped home with the highest number of seats.

In 1991, the BJP undertook a 47-day Ekta Yatra from Kanyakumari in the south to conclude in Srinagar. Led by senior BJP leader M.M. Joshi, the yatras aimed at dousing what the BJP called "the flames of separatism and fundamentalist terrorism fanned and abetted by Pakistan." Joshi managed to unfurl the tricolour at Lal Chowk when the state was going through one of the worst phases in militancy.

Again in 1993, the BJP's Janadesh Yatra took off to highlight its opposition to the introduction of two "draconian bills"-- the Constitution 80th Amendment Bill and the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill — both of which, the party said, were aimed at banning religion from public life as well as denying political space to the BJP. The bills were never passed.

A "good governance" yatra was undertaken by Advani when the Narasimha Rao government booked a hawala cased against him. It was conducted in two phases-- the first phase began in Ernakulam on March 9 and ended in New Delhi on March 23, 1996. The second phase began from Indore on April 14 and ended in Lucknow on April 23.

Advani undertook yet another trip — the Swarna Jayanti Yatra from May 18 to July 10, 1997. His last yatra, the Bharat Uday Yatra, failed to help the BJP in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.