Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani Thursday made a surprise announcement of undertaking a yatra across the country against the menace of corruption, a move seen as an attempt by him to get a grip over the party.
"I have decided to take out a yatra against corruption. The name of the yatra, its timing, point of origin and other details will be worked out with the party. Its focus will be on good governance and clean politics," the 83-year-old leader told reporters.
The decision of the quintessential rathyatri is likely to queer the pitch for some of the Gen-Next leaders who have been eyeing the highest position in the BJP hierarchy.
Asked if this would settle the leadership issue within BJP and if he would be the party's prime ministerial candidate in the next general elections, he evaded a reply.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari had recently said the party will not declare its Prime Ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections and the decision would be taken after the polls.
"The party has not declared its Prime Ministerial candidate before all the elections. Our party president has a right to say so," Advani said in response to a question.
Advani, whose 1990 rathyatra for building a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya changed the BJP's electoral fortunes, said he would complete this yatra against corruption before the winter session begins in November this year.
He later told reporters that the idea of taking out a rathyatra first came to his mind after the last winter session of Parliament was washed out over the opposition demand for a joint parliamentary committee to probe the 2G spectrum scam.
The former deputy prime minister said he had conveyed the
idea of the yatra to the party top brass Tuesday night at a meeting to discuss the BJP strategy in Parliament on cash-for- vote issue.
"Today morning our party president Nitin Gadkari had come to my residence for a meeting. I discussed this idea with him .... He has pledged the party's full support to the yatra," Advani said.
The yatra would be in the form of the rathyatras that he has undertaken in the past where a truck is converted into the shape of a chariot.
While Advani wants to call it a yatra aimed at good governance and clean politics, some party leaders feel naming it an "anti-corruption yatra" would make more impact.
BJP is hopeful Advani's yatra would further corner the UPA-II government which has been mired in a series of corruption cases and scams.
Advani himself was non-committal on the prospect of mid-term polls and whether his yatra was aimed at improving BJP's electoral prospects.
"This yatra has nothing to do with elections," he said in reply to a question. He, however, said the legitimacy of this government "is coming to an end. Their mandate to rule is being exhausted."
He also lashed out the government for getting two former BJP MPs into jail who acted as 'whistle blowers' in cash-for-vote-scam.
"The Speaker has referred the matter of the third BJP MP to attorney general of India for legal opinion. I was the leader of the party and if anyone who should have been in jail should be me and not these MPs who could have simply taken the money home instead of displaying it in the Parliament," he said.
"I hold Dr Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram responsible for these arrests, "he said.
With inputs from PTI