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Anti-Advani poster campaign in Gujarat
K G Suresh in Surat | April 08, 2006 16:49 IST
No protest, no demonstrations, no effigy-burning. It is through posters, billboards and wall writings that senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Kishenchand Advani's opponents, both within and outside the Sangh Parivar, are making public their resentment against him and his ongoing Bharat Suraksha Yatra in the saffron stronghold of Gujarat.
"Advani-Jinnah bhai bhai, aa desh na dana khawa che to pachi gun shamate Jinnah no gava che (When you eat this country's food, why sing paens to the Pakistan founder)," was one of the graffitti that has come up on the walls of Surat as the Advani juggernaut rolled down from Vadodara Saturday on the third day of its 6,000 km journey criss-crossing 10 states over 35 days.
Even before the commencement of the yatra, the walls of Rajkot were plastered with posters hailing party leader Sanjay Joshi, who was reinstated in BJP, apparently under pressure from the Sangh Parivar, following the clean chit given by the Madhya Pradesh police in the sleaze CD scam.
"Kaho dil se, Sanjay Joshi phir se (say from your heart, Sanjay Joshi again)," said the anonymous posters, which carried photographs of the BJP general secretary (organisation) who fell out with Advani in the wake of the Jinnah controversy. The posters appeared even on the arches at the venue of the yatra launch.
Joshi was earlier organisation general secretary of the party in BJP and Narendra Modi loyalists suspect the hand of both party dissidents and that of Vishwa Hindu Parishad cadres behind the poster campaign.
The VHP had voiced its opposition to the yatra questioning credibility of the former deputy prime minister.
In Vadodara too, where Advani arrived Friday night along with Chief Minister Narendra Modi, huge billboards and hoardings welcoming the reinstatement of Joshi to the party post greeted him en route the public meeting in Jubilee Bagh.
It is not just the critics within the Parivar who are engaged in the poster campaign, but also the opposition Congress party which put up hoardings across the state's business capital mocking the yatra.
While BJP cadres, including Modi loyalists, did not bother to remove pro-Joshi posters, Congress alleged their posters were torn by party cadres.
"In a democracy, every citizen has a right to express his opinion, but BJP is curbing this by such acts," said Vadodara Congress president Bhikha Rabari.
"The Modi government seems to have zero tolerance for divergent views and wants to curtail them. BJP does not have any faith in democracy," charged state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki.
The BJP workers on their part accused the opposition of smudging pro-yatra slogans on the city's walls. There were also reports of heated arguments and even fisticuffs between activists of the two parties at different places.
BJP leaders in Surat appeared dismissive of the Jinnah-Advani graffiti at various places. "Let them do what they want. Our mission is to make the yatra a grand success," said city BJP president Praveen Naik.
They too have put up banners, posters, hoardings and cut-outs across the city welcoming the yatra.
Advani's critics are leaving no stone unturned to spread the word that the crowds turning up at the yatra were not for Advani but Modi, who continues to be a big crowd puller in the state.
Even as BJP leaders maintained that Advani does not have the time to read the messages on the walls, senior VHP leaders are asking whether Advani, a former Hindutva poster boy, could see the writing on the wall.