Law of diminishing returns dogged Advani’s yatra: Analysts

November 19th, 2011 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) As Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran L.K. Advani’s 40-day Jan Chetna Yatra concludes Sunday after rolling across 22 states and five union territories, political analysts say it has reaped little benefit for either the man or the party.

While it was meant to put the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the dock over corruption and black money, BJP insiders admit that the sixth rath yatra by the man, who many say nurses prime ministerial ambitions, did not enthuse people as he may have desired.

Political scientist Aswini K. Ray said Advani, 84, had sought to bolster his own image in a party which is “considerably divided”.

“The hidden agenda of the yatra (was) to promote his candidature for the post of prime minister. There is no doubt about that,” Ray told IANS.

Ray said the Jan Chetna Yatra or public awareness campaign was no match for Advani’s famed Ram Rath Yatra of 1990 that ignited nationwide passions over Ayodhya’s temple-mosque row.

He said the political sentiment of the earlier yatra, whether “good or bad”, was shared by many.

But the Jan Chetna Yatra has remained on the backburner. “I am not sure if it has gone beyond converting the converted,” he said.

Analyst V.P. Vaidik said that while the response to Advani was not “too good”, it was “not too bad either”.

Advani’s yatra will culminate Sunday, two days before the start of the winter session of parliament. It also came ahead of major assembly polls, including the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP is trying hard to maximise the impact of the yatra by putting up a show of strength at a rally in the Ramlila Maidan in the capital Sunday.

But a party leader admitted that the campaign could not catch the imagination of people in the way the party had expected.

He said controversies like cash-for-coverage in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and the media focus on proceedings against the party’s former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa had sullied the yatra.

Nisar-ul-Haq, head of the department of political science, Jamia Millia Islamia, said Advani’s yatra did not have much impact, though it was aimed at taking advantage of the atmosphere created by the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare.

He said it was linked to Advani’s “desire to become prime minister. But there are many power centres in the BJP for the post of prime minister”.

On the issue of corruption raised by Advani during the yatra, Haq said though corruption was an issue among people, the BJP cannot claim it is “corruption-less party”.

“No party can claim it is clear as far as corruption is concerned… People want to see if a party is taking up development issues. It is the politics of inclusiveness that is the larger issue,” Haq said, adding that Advani’s yatra “hardly had an impact”.

In his speeches during the yatra which commenced Oct 11, Advani signalled the intention of the BJP to raise the issue of black money in a big way in parliament.

B.R.P. Bhaskar, a Kerala-based political commentator, said the “law of diminishing retruns” had caught up with the BJP leader. “It could not create the kind of impact he expected.”

He said all parties were handicapped on the issue of corruption as they have attracted charges of graft in the states where they were in power.

On the issue of black money which has been repeatedly raised by Advani, he said the BJP-led government had been in power in New Delhi for six years but was not perceived to have gone after black money.

BJP spokesman Tarun Vijay, however, insisted that the impact of the yatra would be visible in the forthcoming elections.

“It has been successful in rousing the spirit of people against corruption and giving a new sense of purpose to the cadre,” Vijay told IANS.

(Prashant Sood can be contacted at

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