Within a month of offering to resign as the Leader of Opposition - a move that he postponed to finetune his succession line - L K Advani announced that he plans to undertake yet another cross-country tour. 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.
Treating these yatras as the continuation of a tradition that is "universal" as well as "deeply rooted" in Hindutva, Advani has used them as a tool for mobilising mass support. While the Ram Rath Yatra of 1990 did lead to a resurgence in the BJP's support base, others evoked doubtful results.
If the 2009 Lok Sabha elections are any indication, Advani's Bharat Suraksha Yatra in 2007 aimed at exposing the government's failure to tackle terrorism and expose its policy of Muslim appeasement failed to make much difference. Nor did his Bharat Uday Yatra, which virtually amounted to a campaign for the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
When Advani announced that he proposed another cross-country yatra aimed at rejuvenating the party, many of his colleagues were caught by surprise. A section within the BJP sees it as an indication of Advani's determination to cling on to power by perpetuating factionalism within the BJP's Gen Next.
Text: Sify Correspondent
Image: BJP leader L K Advani being greeted by Sushma Swaraj after Advani was re-elected leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha at the BJP Parliamentry party meeting, in New Delhi.