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Advani takes Maulanas on yatra

George Iype and Ganesh Nadar in Kanyakumari | March 10, 2004 11:11 IST
Last Updated: March 10, 2004 12:04 IST

Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani kicked off his Bharat Uday Yatra from Kanyakumari on Wednesday to the song Vande Mataram and the sound of conch shells.

Complete coverage of Advani's Yatra

Wife Kamla, son Jayant, and daughter Pratibha are accompanying Advani.

In a bid to counter the Congress, and the opposition, line that the yatra may lead to communal tension, several Maulanas would be travelling with the deputy prime minister on his journey.

The BJP has also brought all its national level Muslim leaders to Kanyakumari, including the newly inducted Arif Mohammed Khan and the party spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

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Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party chief Venkaiah Naidu, Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Shahnawaz Hussain, BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan, Tamil Nadu party chief L Ganesan and popular Telugu actress Vijaya Shanti shared the stage with the deputy prime minister.

Naidu described Advani's yatra as the biggest political mass contact programme in India. He said Advani would reinvent India.

Explaining the reasons for choosing Kanyakumari, he said the BJP wanted the blessings of Vivekananda. "The BJP will be the fourth ocean (after the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea) after the yatra," Naidu said.

He accused the Congress of being frightened of Advani's yatra.

Advani exhorted the people to vote for the BJP, recounting the 'achievements' of the National Democratic Alliance government. He said the 33 day journey was to 'protect' India's achivements.

"India's time as a great power has come. It will be an economic superpower because of the BJP government," he said. The deputy prime minister promised prosperity for all if his government is re-elected. "India has connected to the world. There is road connectivity, telecom connectivity, air connectivity, rail connectivity and most importantly emotional connectivity," he said.

He said 45 years of Congress rule has produced nothing but political instability. In contrast, he said, the Vajpayee government is successfully tackling the Jammu and Kashmir problem, the insurgencies in the northeast and warming up relations with Pakistan.

Advani said he chose Kanyakumari because it had always inspired him to higher things. Before embarking on the yatra the deputy prime minister visited the Vivekananda Memorial.

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