Advani plans 'yatra' to fight corruption

BJP veterans latest campaign against graft to consolidate party base, electoral prospects

Advani plans 'yatra' to fight corruption

“The time and travel plans are being worked out”, said  the 83-year-old BJP strongman, once described as “ Lauh purush” (Iron man) by senior party leader M Venkaiah Naidu, while hitting out at the UPA-2 for allegedly engineering “one of the most shameful scams” - cash-for-vote - which had “sullied Indian democracy”. The veteran BJP leader skirted a question whether Gandhian Anna Hazare inspired him to hit the road again to galvanise people around the corruption issue.

Asked whether his anti-corruption “Yatra” would cross Bellary and Ahmedabad, among other places, the BJP leader quipped “ this is a suggestion for action”.

He replied in the same vein when quizzed  whether he will be the Prime Ministerial candidate in the next general elections.  Advani’s latest Yatra plan comes almost 20 years after his Ram Rath Yatra and the subsequent Janadesh Yatra, Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra, Bharat Uday Yatra and Bharat Suraksha Yatra. 

Each of these ‘Yatras’ were part of a well thought out strategy to revive his flagging personal as well as party profile.

Intra-party rivalry

The current move is again seen as an attempt by the aging leader to occupy the centre stage in the party, which is crowded with “aspiring” leaders like Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, each with different camp followers.

Displaying outrage at the arrest of his party colleagues in connection with the July 2008 parliamentary trust vote bribery scandal, infamous as the cash-for-votes scam, Advani said as the then leader of the BJP parliamentary party, he had approved of the two former MPs - and one incumbent - displaying cash inside the Lok Sabha.

Symbolic surrender

An emotional Advani raised his fists over his head to symbolically ask the government to handcuff him, if it was unleashing the Delhi Police on the former BJP MPs –Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Singh Bhagora, who were arrested on Tuesday.

“If they have been arrested for exposing the scam, then arrest me too. I was their leader in the Lok Sabha,” the octogenarian leader said in the Lok Sabha.

Defending the BJP MPs as whistle blowers, he said anti-corruption laws provide immunity to them.

Instead of taking the Rs one crore bribe money home, the MPs brought it to the Lok Sabha to expose the bribery scandal, he pointed out. 

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