His 'yatra' over, Advani calls for UPA's ouster

Last Updated : 20 November 2011, 13:20 IST

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Showing no visible sign of fatigue at the end of the whirlwind tour, Advani was at his oratorial best as he blamed the Congress-led government for mounting corruption and unchecked rising prices of food items.

Enthused by a large crowd of mainly Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers thronging the Ramlila Maidan, Advani's favourite target was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The former deputy prime minister said the government "was down in the dumps" and it had failed to check corruption due to lack of political will and not due to lack of laws.

He called for a mass struggle till India wins the war over corruption.  If public awareness and mass pressure fails to end corruption, then the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will have to go,  he thundered in Hindi, triggering a huge round of clapping.

Party flags dotted the venue, with the crowds steadily chanting anti-UPA slogans. Also present on the occasion were Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav and AIADMK's M. Thambidurai.  

Advani refrained from speaking about Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi. He did refer to yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who had fasted at the same venue, but made no mention about anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, whose fast also at the Ramlila Maidan attracted tens of thousands.

He spoke about opposition unity and declared that NDA MPs will give an undertaking to their presiding officers that they do not have illegal bank account abroad.
Advani's Jan Chetna Yatra, his sixth since 1990, began Oct 11 and took him to 22 states and five union territories.

Opinion was clearly divided on its utility to the BJP -- and Advani himself. Most analysts felt it had failed to create the enthusiasm the BJP may have desired. But by the time he rolled into Delhi, at least two senior leaders -- Jaswant Singh and Rajnath Singh -- had declared that Advani was the BJP's best bet to be India's prime minister.
That, however, only exposed the fissures within the BJP.

On Sunday, none of the other speakers including Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley took up the theme. Although Advani's main theme across the country was corruption, he was embarrassed when former BJP chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa was taken into custody for corruption just when the yatra entered Karnataka.

Advani was projected by the BJP as prime ministerial materials during the 2009 Lok Sabha battle, which the Congress-led coalition won.   Sushma Swaraj, who heads the opposition ranks in the Lok Sabha, hit out at the government Sunday for failing to curb price rise and corruption.

Her Rajya Sabha counterpart Jaitley said the government faced a leadership crisis and had lost credibility. BJP president Nitin Gadkari asked Sonia Gandhi to apologize for the arrest of BJP MPs who had exposed the the cash-for-vote sca in parliament in 2008.

Published 20 November 2011, 03:53 IST

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