K G SURESH, NEW DELHI, MAY 4 (PTI)
Deaths and destruction dogged BJP's month-long twin 'Bharat Suraksha Yatra' by L K Advani and Rajnath Singh which was finally called off today following the death of senior party leader Pramod Mahajan.
But contrary to Advani's landmark Ram Rath Yatra of 1990 which also came to a grinding halt following his arrest at Samastipur in Bihar catapulting the BJP to the centrestage of national politics, Mahajan's death, which forced the stoppage of the Yatra, has caused an irreparable loss to the saffron party, which has never looked up after the May 2004 debacle.
Announced in the wake of the serial bomb blasts in Varanasi in March which killed 21 people, the Yatra, which began simultaneously from Rajkot and Bhubaneshwar on April six, hit the first roadblock on April 11 following the Meerut fire tragedy in which about 50 people were killed.
With such a major mishap occurring in his home state, Singh immediately left his Yatra mid-way and rushed to Meerut to console the injured and the families of the victims.
A day later, news of the death of Kannada thespian came even as Advani was all set to enter Karnataka to a tumultous welcome from Solapur in Maharashtra.
But keeping in mind the solemnity of the occasion and the passion the news of Rajkumar's death could arouse in the southern state, the organisers of the Yatra chose to cancel the three-day long Karnataka leg of the 6,000 km long journey.
Both Yatras were grounded yet again as the party's master strategist and General Secretary Pramod Mahajan was shot at and seriously wounded by his own younger brother Pravin at his Mumbai residence on April 22.
Both Singh and Advani had to rush to Mumbai leaving their Yatras mid-way through.
Even as Mahajan bravely battled for life giving a ray of hope to party leaders that he would recover sooner or later, terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir massacred Hindus in Doda and Udhampur on May one.
Keen to put the party back on the Hindutva track, Singh did not waste time in holding back the yatra and rushing to the militancy-affected areas.
But even before he could reach the spot, news came about Mahajan's deteriorating health and both the leaders left for Mumbai to visit him.
The frequent breaks, lack of a very enthusiastic response, particularly in northern India, fatigue and virtual absence of media coverage at the national level were already causing concern to the party top brass. Mahajan's death came as the last straw and the Yatris decided to call it a day and hang their boots.