Advani’s ‘yatra’ put off because of party crisis

August 27th, 2009 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Khalid Akhter
New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) The crisis in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has led to another casualty: star leader L.K. Advani’s much-hyped ‘yatra’ of next month that has now been postponed, party sources said Thursday.

The ‘yatra’, an Advani trademark since September 1990, was aimed at rejuvenating the party’s demoralised cadres in the wake of the Lok Sabha poll debacle and before a round of state elections.

“We thought of timing it to begin before the Maharashtra assembly elections in October. This has been postponed,” a senior party leader told IANS.

The BJP is a major player in Maharashtra where it is allied with the Shiv Sena. The BJP is also a key player in Haryana.

Advani, 81, had announced at the party’s national executive meeting here in June that he would travel across the country to explain to party workers the reasons the BJP lost the Lok Sabha battle when it was hoping to dislodge the Congress.

“In order to let party (members) know both the opportunities and tasks before us, I have decided to tour the entire country. I shall be visiting all the states, and more than one place in some of the bigger states,” Advani had said.

According to party insiders, Advani was to have begun his journey from the three states scheduled to go to the polls, probably in October: Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh.

However, the crisis that has now enveloped the party has forced Advani to do a rethink, party sources told IANS.

The BJP expelled former cabinet minister Jaswant Singh last week for his controversial book praising Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. But there has been no end to BJP’s troubles.

Arun Shourie, a Rajya Sabha MP, also raised the banner of revolt saying some BJP leaders were behaving like “Humpty Dumpty”.

Adding to this, the defiance of former chief ministers Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan and B.C. Khanduri of Uttarakhand has jolted the party.

“For the time being, Advani’s programme has been postponed. It may not take off for a while if this crisis does not blow over,” said a senior party leader who cannot be named as he is not authorised to speak to the press.

Unlike his previous “rath yatras”, this tour was not to hold public meetings but to primarily interact with BJP workers at all levels and to get a first-hand account of what ails the party.

The most famous of Advani’s yatras took place in 1990 when the BJP was propping up the coalition government of Prime Minister V.P. Singh.

Amid a wave of Hindu nationalist fervour, Advani was to have travelled from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh in support of a temple at the site of the Babri mosque. It was marred by violence.

Advani was arrested in Bihar, leading to the collapse of the V.P. Singh government and fresh elections. The yatra is credited with building up the popularity of Advani and leading to the BJP taking power in New Delhi.

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