Sitabdiara/Chapra: BJP stalwart L K Advani set off on his sixth yatra in 21 years on Tuesday to focus on rash of scams and black money issues, giving a clarion call for not just 'change' in leadership but also change in the system.

Embarking on his 38-day 'Jan Chetna Yatra' (public awareness journey) from Bihar to highlight UPA government's "failings" on corruption issues, 84-year-old Advani said he would point out wrongs in his party as well.

"I will point out the wrongs in my party too. If there is graft in my party, I will weed it out too," said Advani, who has remained non-committal about whether he sees himself as his party's candidate for Prime Minister in the next general elections.

"What has happened during the last one year in the country has forced people to lose faith.... They have lost faith in the leadership of the government.... cases of corruption are surfacing one by one," Advani said while addressing public meetings at Sitabdiara and Chapra, where the rath yatra was flagged off by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at the Airport Ground.

He earlier visited Jayaprakash Narayan's ancestral village in Sitab Diara, near Chhapra, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the anti-Emergency hero.

"Corruption should end in this country. There should not just be a change of leadership but also a change in the system," the former Deputy Prime Minister said.

He said there is growing anger and resentment among people against leaders coming to power only to mint money by indulging in corruption. "Enough is enough.... the country
will not tolerate it."

Advani also emphasised that the yatra is aimed at good governance and clean politics as also the issues of Lokpal and for bringing back blackmoney stashed away abroad

Addressing the rally at Chhapra, Kumar said Advani's rally targeted corruption "but there were some people who tried to see what is not there.

The Yatra will cover 7,600 km, travel through 23 states and four union territories and culiminate in Delhi. Advani will visit around 100 districts.

Advani's first yatra was in 1990 which was Ram Rath yatra and it started from Somnath to Ayodhya. He was, however, arrested in Samastipur in Bihar by the then Chief Minister Lalu Prasad.

Advani undertook the Janadesh yatra in 1993; Swarna Jayanti Yatra in 1997 when India completed 50 years of independence; Bharat Uday Yatra in 2004 and Bharat Suraksha yatra in 2006.

Of these, 1990 and 1997 yatras were a bigger success. The 1990 yatra built the Ram Mandir movement while BJP formed a government in 1998, a year after the Swaran Jayanti Yatra.

"People have today lost faith in the potential that this country has. The biggest achievement of this yatra would be to restore that belief," Advani said amid a thunderous applause.

Advani is travelling on a converted bus with an electronic power lift from which he gives speeches. His colleagues and senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were present when the yatra was flagged off.

He told the gathering that the inspiration for the current yatra had come from the work carried out by Jayprakash Narayan and lauded the veteran socialist saying he had brought all non-Congress parties - other than the Communists - together against the "corrupt" Congress government in the 1970s.

"The success of all the past movements have been in creating awareness among people," Advani said and pointed out that both the freedom struggle and the JP movement had a similar aim of educating people about the atrocities of the British and the "corruption in Congress regime" respectively.

Praising Nitish Kumar for bringing about a sea-change in the state since the NDA government came to power in 2005, the BJP leader said, "Bihar presents a good example where Nitish Kumar is running the government with full transparency and honesty.... He is an able and effective administrator."

In his speech, Kumar welcomed Advani for choosing Jayprakash Narayan's birthplace and his birth anniversary for starting his yatra against corruption.

He recalled that the JP movement had also started in Bihar and said nobody had then thought that the Congress will be voted out of power.

"We don't promise support only by words but also by deeds," he said.

Advani recalls his arrest in Bihar

Advani also went down memory lane and recalled the period when he was arrested from Samastipur in Bihar during his Rath Yatra in 1990 for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.

"I recall the period when I got arrested following the order of the then Chief Minister in course of my Rath Yatra on the temple issue and was lodged in Masanjore which is now in Jharkhand," Advani said.

"There is a lot of change then and now... today the Chief Minister of the same state has come to welcome and flag off the yatra," he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Kumar, without naming Lalu Prasad, decried that there were people who were terming the Jan Chetna Yatra against corruption as
"communal" in nature.

"They have also questioned my secular image for flagging off the Yatra... they should know it is yatra against corruption which won't be tolerated by people anymore," he said.

Lalu brings out Rajbhavan march against Advani yatra


Bringing out a Rajbhavan march against senior BJP leader L K Advani's Jan Chetna Yatra from Bihar, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad on Tuesday attacked the Nitish Kumar government for according a red-carpet reception to Advani.

"The Nitish Kumar government, which welcomed Advani and accorded him a red-carpet reception during his yatra to vitiate communal harmony and peace, is not going to last for a long time now," Prasad told party workers during the march here.

Prasad said his march to the Rajbhavan was taken out also to protest against alleged corruption, BIADA land scam, growing crime, water and electricity crisis, blackmarketing of fertilisers and bureaucratic red tape.

"Nitish double standard has come to the fore in people's mind ... his secular image is also exposed because of his participation in Advani's Chetna Yatra," he said and recalled how Kumar had withdrawn his invitation for dinner to senior BJP leaders only because of the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during the BJP's national executive in Patna last year.

Accusing Kumar of sitting into "the lap of BJP and RSS," Prasad, without naming Advani, said Nitish wants an RSS man as the Prime Minister.

The RJD president alleged that the state government had spent Rs one crore from the state exchequer on Advani's Yatra from Sitabdiara.

"This yatra has nothing to do with ending corruption... the RSS is hatching a dangerous conspiracy in the country through the Yatra," he charged.

Cautioning those who took his party lightly, Prasad claimed the NDA government would not fulfill its term and would fall because of its internal contradictions.

The party brought out a Rajbhavan march from J P statue near Gandhi Maidan but they were stopped by the policemen at the R-Block crossing here on way to Rajbhavan.

Later, a party delegation led by state president Ramchandra Purve and secretary general Ramkripal Yadav called on Governor Devanand Konwar and submitted a memorandum.

Why starting from Bihar? Cong asks Advani

Congress sought to ask L K Advani and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to clarify why
Bihar was chosen for the BJP leader’s Jan Chetna Yatra instead of Gujarat or other BJP-ruled states.

"L K Advani should clarify his choice of state for his yatra. If, according to him, Bihar government is free of corruption, does it mean other BJP-ruled states like Gujarat have corrupt governments?" asked AICC spokesman Shakeel Ahmed.

"And Nitish Kumar should explain to the people for allowing L K Advani to start his yatra from Bihar. He (Kumar) has always distanced from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi following the infamous Godhra incidents. Has the Bihar Chief Minister forgotten that Advani is one of the charge-sheeted persons in the Babri Masjid demolition?" he said.

Ahmed, who was in Ranchi to attend the 'shardh' of Rajya Sabha member Ramdayal Munda, was reacting to media query on Advani embarking on his sixth career yatra, flagged off by Nitish Kumar, from Sitabdiara, the birth place of Jayaprakash Narayan.

NCP moots havan to purify Sitabdiara

The NCP accused L K Advani of 'desecrating' Sitabdiara, the birth place of late Jaya Prakash Narayan, by starting his "Jan Chetna" yatra against corruption and said it would organise a 'havan' to purify the place.

A representative of communal forces, Advani hurt the sole of Jaya Prakas Narayan who was a socialist leader, state LJP spokesman A K Jha claimed.

"By undertaking his yatra Advani has desecrated the birth place of JP, the party will organise a 'havan' soon to purify the place," he said.

Meanwhile, NCP General Secretary Tarique Anwar demanded that the BJP make public the expenses to be incurred on this rath yatra of Advani.

Advani's yatra a 'treachery': CPI

Describing the Jan Chetna Yatra by L K Advani as a 'treachery', the CPI alleged that BJP governments in the states were 'neck-deep' in corruption therefore the party had lost moral authority to hold public shows.

''The Jan Chetna Yatra of Advani is nothing but treachery... the BJP governments in the states are neck-deep in corruption and it has no moral right to hold public show on corruption,'' the CPI's Bihar state council said.

The party activists also berated Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for flagging off the yatra from Chapra.

The party decided that its workers would stage 24-hour fast on October 21 against corruption and price rise in Bihar.

(JPN/Agencies)