On Day 1 of the Mumbai leg of his cross-country campaign, the senior BJP leader's convoy was halted on two occasions, owing to traffic snarls
Mumbai's traffic spares no one: not even a wizened BJP patriarch who flamboyantly mounts a wagon with the noble aim of rectifying the sullied 'image and reputation of the country'. The Mumbai leg of L K Advani's Jan Chetna Yatra flagged off yesterday, and received quite a mixed response from citizens at different stretches.
In course of its journey across the city, his wagon hit a few roadblocks (read traffic). On two successive occasions, Advani's convoy was stuck in traffic snarls at Mahatma Gandhi Road in Ghatkopar and the Kanjurmarg railway over-bridge on the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road leaving state and city BJP representatives red faced.
Thousands of party members surround the bus carrying BJP senior leader LK Advani, who is in the city for his Jan Chetna Yatra. Advani arrived one-and-a-half hour behind schedule owing to the traffic jams
At Kanjurmarg en route to Jogeshwari, his bandwagon had to be diverted to the wrong side of the road, further aggravating the traffic situation and bringing the crawling traffic between IIT and Vikhroli to a grinding halt.
An incessant delay in a Ghatkopar lane sent a flustered BJP leader Vinod Tawde rushing to the traffic police booth, with a plea to get the traffic moving.
BJP top brass Gopinath Munde, Ananth Kumar, Prakash Jawdekar, who were part of Advani's entourage, could be seen breaking into a sweat of discomfiture. The traffic debacle was the reason that Advani's rath cancelled its scheduled pit stop near IIT, leaving hundreds of gathered BJP workers forlorn.
Glitches apart, Advani's Jan Chetna Yatra somewhat generated cheer in the party circles. Scores of BJP workers lined the streets to welcome their 83-year-old leader.
The city unit of the party left no stone unturned to cash in on the visit, creating much fanfare and spectacle around his yatra. As soon as it entered the city precincts via the Airoli link bridge, Advani's convoy was welcomed by an entourage of Mumbai BJP workers, who deified him with a shower of petals.
Over a 1,000 workers, led by the city's BJP chief Raj Purohit, former Union Minister Ram Naik, Jaywantiben Mehta and Atul Shah, gave a fitting welcome to the leader.
When the applause died down, Advani addressed the gathering, thanking former Lok Sabha speaker and senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi for his presence.
He insisted that the yatra had received an unprecedented response, claiming that this was arguably the biggest and most successful of all the seven yatras undertaken by him till date.
And then he got down to business (read UPA-bashing). Claiming that the nation had earned itself disrepute across the globe owing to the sullying effect of a slew of scams, the veteran lamented that "India is now referred to as a corrupt nation," inferring that it was due to "corrupt leaders in the Congress ranks that we are being defamed."
No political rally is quite complete without sloganeering, and on this count too, Advani did not disappoint. He signed off with three catchphrases for his star-crossed minions: 'Bhrashtachar mitayenge,' 'kala dhan wapas layenge' and 'Bharat desh naya banayenge'.
What didn't quite add up was the tepid welcome he received at Mulund, Bhandup and Ghatkopar all well-known BJP strongholds. On the MG Road stretch, however, things looked encouraging.