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Rains, delay fail to dampen Advani's chariot ride

Last updated on: October 28, 2011 09:36 IST

Rains, delay fail to dampen Advani's chariot ride

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Staying awake and staying dry were among the major challenges faced by the crowd at BJP leader L K Advani's rally in Madurai, discovered A Ganesh Nadar

Intermittent rains and locals who didn't really understand a word of his speech did not deter L K Advani from doing what he does best nowadays -- attacking the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre -- in Madurai on Thursday evening.

The Bharatiya Janata Party patriarch, currently on his much-hyped Jan Chetna Yatra, arrived well over an hour late to address a public meeting at West Masi Street, Maudrai on Thursday evening.

Madurai's rural Superintendent of Police Asra Garg was present at Madurai airport to ensure that everything goes smoothly after Advani arrives.

Wonder why they insist on calling it a rath yatra when the BJP leader takes a flight to most locations. Maybe it should be renamed the 'flying rath yatra'.

A crowd of over one lakh people, mobilised from all the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, greeted him with a raucous welcome.


Image: At L K Adavani's Jan Chetana Yatra in Madurai
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar
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Some local leaders addressed the crowd before Advani made an entry. A man sold BJP paraphernalia outside the venue to enthusiastic buyers.

Surprisingly, the crowd comprised of several Muslim women.

The policemen at the venue complicated matters for those who had driven to West Masi Street to listen to Advani. The cars were made to take a circuitous route instead of a straightforward one.

They also tried to stop everyone, including the press personnel, from getting anywhere close to the stage. The reporters initially tried to be polite and explained that they had to be close to the dais, but later resorted to being absolutely rude. They managed to drive home their point.


Image: At L K Adavani's Jan Chetana Yatra in Madurai
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar
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Rains, delay fail to dampen Advani's chariot ride

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BJP leaders also distributed press cards without any photographs on them; no one seemed to know why.

The local leaders who addressed the crowd bored it to death. Advani's rath yatra is supposed to 'awaken' the public, not put them to sleep.

The speakers slammed Sonia Gandhi, called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an idiot and Rahul Gandhi immature. One of them even went so far as to state that Rajeev meant the lotus, the symbol of the BJP.

Drawing parallels between a former prime minister from the Gandhi family and the BJP's symbol is far fetched even by the Opposition's standards.

A speaker claimed that Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had money stashed away in Swiss banks. He even narrated figures as if he worked as a clerk in that bank. Another said that Hasan Ali, arrested on charges of money laundering, had actually stocked Sonia Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar's money for them.


Image: At L K Adavani's Jan Chetana Yatra in Madurai
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar
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Rains, delay fail to dampen Advani's chariot ride

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These speakers had obviously never heard of a defamation suit. They probably wouldn't mind if something like that happened. Imagine being sued by Sonia Gandhi and the resultant publicity.

After his usual tirade about the current UPA government being the most corrupt one in the history of India and Manmohan Singh being the weakest prime minister ever, Advani also addressed some local issues.

The British, in their rule spanning two centuries, had managed to take away Rs one lakh crore from India, claimed Advani. After independence, he claimed, black money worth over 25 times that amount had been stashed away in foreign banks.


Image: At L K Adavani's Jan Chetana Yatra in Madurai
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar
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During Advani's speech, it started pouring. His listeners immediately picked up their plastic chairs and held them over their heads. Advani continued his speech, obviously impressed at how the crowd was braving the vagaries of nature to listen to him, even though they did not understand Hindi and someone had to translate the speech for them.

Advani sought a reassessment of the controversial Koodangulam Nuclear Power Project. He also sought strict action on the issue of the Sri Lanka Navy firing at Indian fishermen who crossed the maritime boundary.

The BJP leaders then sang an anti-corruption song written specially for the yatra.

After staying in Madurai on Thursday night, Advani will travel to Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala by road, passing through several towns and villages in southern Tamil Nadu.


Image: At L K Adavani's Jan Chetana Yatra in Madurai
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar
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