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Advani's yatra: BJP will be ready for pitfall called Laloo

March 03, 2004 20:40 IST

Ever since Laloo Prasad Yadav put an end to L K Advani's rath yatra in the early nineties, the Bharatiya Janata Party has been wary of the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader.

At that time, Yadav's action stemmed from the fear that the frenzy whipped up by the yatra would lead to communal tension, and possible violence, in Bihar.

There is a lot of difference between the situation then and now.

At that time, Yadav was the chief minister. Today, he controls the state by proxy, through his wife and chief minister, Rabri Devi.

At that time, Advani was an opposition leader undertaking the yatra to whip up enough support to launch his party into power at the Centre. Today, he is the deputy prime minister.

At that time, the BJP had made construction of a Ram mandir in Ayodhya a major issue. The yatra was used to whip up support for the party on the basis of the mandir issue. Today, the same BJP has discarded it in favour of development issues.

But Yadav is not taking any chances, ad neither is he going to ignore an opportunity to project himself as the man who can stand up to the BJP juggernaut and improve his standing among opposition leaders.

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So, when the BJP announced that Advani would embark on yet another roadshow, called Udai Bharat Yatra, Yadav lost no time in threatening suitable action when it enters Bihar.

But this time, the BJP will not be taken unawares. "We are ready for that," BJP general secretary and spokesman Pramod Mahajan told reporters in Delhi. He dismissed fears by Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury and Lok Jan Shakti leader Ram Vilas Paswan that the yatra would lead to communal violence.

"How can it create communal disharmony when the focus would be on the issue of development. It is ridiculous to link development to communalism.

The criticism of Advani's yatra only showed that the opposition is worried about its impact. While the BJP is setting the agenda, the opposition has nothing except criticism," he said.

He said the opposition criticism stemmed from a lack of programmes and a leader for the elections. "Everyone, including Laloo Yadav and Paswan are projecting themselves as prime ministerial candidates."

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