//Advani's yatra hits home-turf bumps

Advani's yatra hits home-turf bumps

New Delhi: The yatra man of Indian politics, the man who almost made this form of political campaigning his very own, is at it again. But this time, it seems, he is fighting protests from within his own party.

On Tuesday, first there were reports that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had expressed reservations over the yatra plan.

Later, Vajpayee termed these reports as ‘baseless’ and wished both him and party President Rajnath Singh all success.

"The speculation about conversation between Advani and me is baseless. I wish them (Advani and Singh) all success (in their yatra)," Vajpayee said in a brief statement.

Advani, too, dismissed as ‘amazing’ the reports that the former PM had questioned the timing of the yatra as also its political significance.

Senior leader M Venkaiah Naidu said Vajpayee would be ‘blessing’ both the yatra-bound leaders — Advani and Rajnath Singh — and flag off the yatra from his residence in New Delhi on Wednesday.

And then as Advani was getting ready to give the final details of his yatra to the press, the last thing that he probably wished was to see people chanting Sanjay Joshi’s name.

Joshi, who has just returned to the party after a brief suspension, was given a hero’s welcome at the BJP headquarters on Tuesday.

But it looked as if the celebration was designed to prove a point to his one-time friend LK Advani, who had been opposing Joshi’s re-entry into the party.

Advani, however, tried to shrug off the conspiracy theorists. "What is there? Sanjay Joshi was absolved of the charges he was facing. So he is back," he said.

In the last 15 years, Advani has undertaken four yatras under different political conditions and circumstances. But this one poses a tough challenge for the former BJP president.

Surprisingly, Advani faces this challenge from within the Sangh Parivar. The RSS is not happy and the VHP has chosen to stay away from the yatra. To offset this, Advani has chosen to pass through areas, which have been the stronghold of the BJP and focus totally on the issue of minority appeasement.

"Is it right to communalise domestic policy? I accuse the Congress party of continually doing this," Advani said.

The man feeling left out perhaps is Rajnath Singh. With all the attention focused mainly on Advani’s attempts, seeking a resurrection of his political career, Rajnath Singh has almost been reduced to playing second fiddle.

The only consolation is that his yatra, too, will be flagged off by Atal Bihari Vajpayee along with that of Advani