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Seer's remand: Advani threatens to extend stir
Onkar Singh in New Delhi |
November 20, 2004 19:44 IST
Last Updated: November 21, 2004 00:49 IST
Bharatiya Janata Party president Lal Kishenchand Advani has announced that the party's three-day dharna and hunger stir would be extended if the Tamil Nadu police sought Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Sarswathi's extension of police remand beyond Monday and if the court granted their request.
He made this announcement in New Delhi at the end of the first day of the protest. "I have just now been told that the Tamil Nadu high court has rejected the seer's bail plea and the Tamil Nadu police will seek an extension of his remand. If the extension is granted than we will extend our protests till the Shankarcharya is released from police custody," he said.
Advani started his fast at 10am, an hour behind schedule, and ended it half an hour before the announced time. BJP leaders, including Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, S S Ahluwalia, Arif Mohammed Khan, Najma Heptullah and Varun Gandhi, sat with him in a pandal in front of the Parliament Street police station in New Delhi.
Advani said that the Tamil Nadu government's actions reminded him of the dark days of the Emergency in 1975, when top leaders of the country were put behind bars by then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
"The Tamil Nadu government has committed the same sin. If the people of India defeated the Congress in the 1977 elections for imposing the emergency, AIADMK, DMK and Congress party would be wiped out in the next elections for sending Shankaracharya to jail," he said.
Barring the police and journalists, barely a few hundred BJP supporters were present at the protest venue.
In the morning, BJP supporters manhandled Rohit Mathur of Aaj Tak when he referred to the poor attendance.
One party worker snatched the microphone from Mathur while the other pushed him and accused him of being a Congress agent. After the journalists threatened to walk out, senior party leaders including Arun Jaitley intervened and managed to bring the situation under control.
Bapu Aasa Ram's devotees saved the day for the BJP by turning up in good numbers to listen to their spiritual leader.
Bapu Aasa Ram warned the Tamil Nadu government of serious consequences if the Shankaracharya was not released immediately. He appealed to President A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in the matter. "Otherwise," he said, "god will intervene."