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Mr Advani, how about the Raavan within?

On a countrywide Rath Yatra to fight against Raavan of corruption, Veteran leader plays down the issue of graft in the ruling BJP in the state, shares dais with scam-tainted Home Minister R Ashok
 
As his much-hyped Jan Chetna Yatra entered the state yesterday, veteran BJP leader L K Advani preached a 15,000-strong crowd that 'good governance cannot coexist with corruption', but he showed little inhibition in sharing the dais with scam-tainted Home Minister R Ashok.

Home and Transport Minister R Ashok looks on, while senior BJP leader LK Advani addresses a public meeting in the city as part of the later's Jan Chetana Yatra yesterday


In a departure from his all-out attack on corrupt leaders and governments in others states, the BJP patriarch chose to play down the slew of graft charges faced by ministers of his own party in Karnataka.

Raavan within?
According to political observers, the move sent out a message that 'the party with a difference' is no different and is equally clueless about how to fight the metaphorical Raavan of corruption within the party rank and file.

So what made Advani, who had been clamouring on his way to Bangalore that no tainted leader should be allowed to participate in his anti-graft rally, soften his stand and share the dais with scam-tainted Ashok?

Tacit deal

According to sources in the BJP, it was the result of a tacit understanding between the warring L K Advani and B S Yeddyurappa factions. The Yeddyurapp camp demanded that the tainted-leader's picture be shown along with Advani in the backdrop of the dais.

After initially reluctance, the Advani camp, headed by H N Anath Kumar, agreed only on the condition that the rival faction won't object to Ashok sharing the dais with the party patriarch during the rally.

As per the original plan, the pictures of only two national leaders Advani and party president Nitin Gadkari was to be shown in the picture in the backdrop. But, Yeddyurappa supporters mounted pressure the organizers, members of the Advani camp, to put up a picture of their leader also.

The BJP's  anti-graft rally was cut short by the downpour that lashed the city yesterday evening. Arond 15,000 people had thronged the venue to listen to BJP patriarch and other leaders


Succumbing to their demand, Yeddyurappa's picture was shown in the backdrop. Pictures of state BJP president K S Eswarappa and Ananth Kumar were also incorporated.

"If we can show Yeddyurappa's posters prominently in an anti-graft rally, then there should be hesitation in allowing other tainted leaders to participate in it. Had Yeddyurappa was not in the jail, he would surely have been on the dais.
 
I don't see a reason why one should raise hue and cry over Ashok's participation in the event. Had we dropped him, it would have sent out a wrong signal to the general public and political circles," said a close aide of Ananth Kumar.

Fissures ruin party
Despite the desperate and hasty patch-up work carried out by the party leadership, fissures in the BJP rank and file were too apparent to ignore.

Though Yeddyurappa's cutout sat pretty on the stage, no one from his camp camp, except D B Chandre Gowda, MP from Bangalore (North), showed up at the function.

Yeddyurappa's close aides, Shobha Karandlaje and V Somanna, who are the ministers from the city, were also nowhere to be seen. Other ministers, including M P Renukacharya, Basavaraja Bommai, Murugesh Nirani, C C Patil, all from the Yeddyurappa faction, were conspicuous by their absence.

Even as a downpour cut the rally short, Advani skipped the press conference that was actually scheduled for 3pm but could be materialised as he reached the venue by 6pm.

Why avoid press?

Anticipating a volley of pointed questions from the scribes about the rampant corruption in the ruling BJP, he decided not to face the press. But he could not parry the issue of corruption within BJP while attacking the UPA government and prime minister Manmohan Singh on a series of graft cases.

"Not that I am tolerant of the mess created in our own house. Anybody, including me, must be punished if found corrupt and guilty. I condemn corruption in any form," he said. Commenting on the BJP leaders facing corruption charges, he said they were just accused and not proven guilty.

Around 15,000 people thronged the venue. But rain played the spoilsports and none of the state leaders, except for Ewarappa who delivered the welcome speech, could address the rally.
 
Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, minister Jagadish Shettar, Chandre Gowda, Ananthkumar, Dharmendra Pradhan, in-charge of BJP's Karnataka affairs, and senior national leaders Ravishankar Prasad and Venkiah Naidu also participated.

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