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Tame end to Advani's yatra in Amritsar

Onkar Singh in Amritsar | March 27, 2004 13:48 IST

The presence of a large number of Muslims added colour to an otherwise tame end to the first leg of Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani's Bharat Uday Yatra in Amritsar.

Abdul Qayoom Raja Qureshi, chairman of the state BJP unit's Minority Morcha, had accompanied the yatra all the way from Mohali with sixty other Muslim leaders of the state.

"I feel that the Bhartiya Janata Party is doing the right thing. They would also solve the Ayodhya problem. If the Ram mandir comes up at a place where it existed centuries ago when Emperor Babur demolished it to make a mosque, then it should not be resisted," he said with a smile.

He was happy to show off his scarf sporting the colours of the BJP to mediapersons.

Forty-four-year-old Sufi Azad Ali from Firozpur district joined the yatra at Batala, 30 km from Amritsar. Sporting a black topi, cream coloured kurta and a printed lungi, Ali praised Advani for his fitness. "Look at the man. At his age he does not get tired. Travelling over 8,000 km by road is no joke.

"I admire him and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the kind of development work they have done in the country in last six years," Ali told rediff.com.

Fauza Singh, who runs a restaurant in Hall Bazar in Amritsar, said Advani has done the right thing by terminating his yatra in the holy city. "I have been watching both the Congress as well as the BJP leadership. Though I do not agree with their claim that India is shining, if I were to choose between Vajpayee and Sonia, then I would vote for Vajpayee. He is a mature leader who understands international politics," he said.

But there was no dearth of cynics. Though the yatra has passed off peacefully so far, some felt that it was totally uncalled for and Advani could have spent his energies in doing something constructive for the people of the country.

Advani faced angry Shromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) activists led by Simranjit Singh Mann. They were protesting against the yatra saying only aggressors had come on raths and horses in the past and devastated the city.

Earlier, when Advani's air-conditioned bus rolled into Gole Bagh, venue of the joint public meeting he addressed with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday afternoon, there were hardly any scenes of jubilation.

Barring a handful of cheerleaders who shouted 'Loh Purush Zindabad', the audience hardly moved an inch.

When the yatra began from Kanyakumari on March 10, mediapersons were told that the prime minister would welcome it at the end of the first leg in Amritsar. But Vajpayee was nowhere when the yatra arrived.

Advani had to wait for Vajpayee as the latter's cavalcade wound its way to Gole Bagh from the Raja Sansi International Airport.

BJP president Venkaiah Naidu's posters were all over the city, but he was conspicuous by his absence.

Click here for the yatra route map

Though he has now covered over 4,000 km in the first phase and passed through 73 parliamentary constituencies, Advani looked fit as a fiddle and ready for the second leg, which begins from Porbandar on March 30 and ends in Puri on April 16.

Complete coverage of Advani's yatra


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