By Deepak Kumar Rath
Seeing is believing. The enthusiastic response to the Bharat Uday Yatra in the southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh is proof of the tremendous goodwill the people have for the BJP and the NDA government.
The BJP, which was once known as a Hindi-heartland party, is no longer thought to be so. Political pundits have now no hesitation in saying that the public response will translate into a decisive mandate for the NDA in the coming general elections. The Yatra completed its seventh day on March 17, 2004, covering more than 2,000 km in the South. In Kerala, where the BJP is yet to open its account in the State Assembly as well as in Parliament, none can deny that this time the party would increase its mass base. In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the BJP and its alliance partners?the AIADMK and the TDP?are in a strong position giving sleepless nights to the Congress. In Karnataka, the BJP seems to have won over the support of the minorities and the backward castes, as was clearly reflected during the Bharat Uday Yatra.
A confident Shri Advani said, ?There is no doubt, the public response will translate into a decisive mandate for the NDA.? Talking to Organiser, he said, ?When the concept of Yatra came to my mind, I first talked to my wife and she immediately said it would have a wide impact. Then I talked to Venkaiahji separately and subsequently to Pramod Mahajan and Venkaiahji together. Vajpa-yeeji congratulated me on the idea.? Shri Advani is hopeful that, ?the lotus will now bloom in Kerala, including the other southern states.?
Gone are the days when the BJP was untouchable for some sections of the society. Blessings of many Christian priests to the BJP in Kottayam, Kerala, the significant presence of Muslim community at the public functions in Shikaripura, Soraba and Hanagal and a massive rally in Shimoga, Karnataka (where the majority of backward castes reside), prove that the BJP has been able to make a dent into the traditional stronghold of the Congress. During his Yatra, Shri Advani commented, ?Our opponents have tried to instill a fear of the BJP into the country'sreligious minorities. I am heartened to see that this scare-mongering is yielding diminishing returns for them.? Shri Advani said the message of national pride the Yatra seeks to communicate has touched a chord in the people of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where ?I detected an outpouring of faith in India'sability to fight poverty and backwardness and emerge as a developed economy and a world power by 2020?.
Pointing to the maladminis-tration of Congress governments in Karnataka and Kerala, Shri Advani said, ?There is complete erosion of the culture of governance in the Congress. The Congress party is living in a time wrap. It is a victim of abject failure to adapt to new challenges. Living on past glories, the party has been reduced to a motley crowd around a family.?
Ayodhya solution immediately after election
?So far as Ayodhya is concerned, the NDA itself has said the issue should be sorted out either by an a court decision or by an agreement between the two communities. My interaction and government'sinteraction with sections involved in this matter convince me that within a short time, after the formation of the next government, there would be agreement between the two communities in respect to this issue. It would be a negotiated settlement, which would come about, and would have a great advantage over both the court verdict and resolution by Parliament. These were the three courses always talked about and we have always felt that even if there is a court verdict, even if there is a resolution by Parliament, the problem will not be sorted out permanently. Agitation would continue. If there is an agreement after negotiations, it will be an enduring solution,? Shri Advani said while talking to media persons during the Yatra.
Federal law for criminals like Veerappan
?The Central Government has always, whenever desired, given all support to the states concerned. In this case, both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu must deal with the criminals against whom so many cases of murder are pending. Somehow it has not happened till now. At one stage, therefore, it was suggested to all Chief Ministers that just as there is a situation in other federal countries where a few crimes are identified as federal crimes, here should too, the Central Government be given authority to initiate action. But most Chief Ministers have not been in favour of it. Although at all conferences of Directors General of Police and Chief Secretaries this proposal always found favour and they said it would be in the interest of the country if such a law was passed. In the case of Veerapan when I am asked, I can simply say that it is not within my purview; it is a law and order situation that has to be tackled by the state governments. We have sent helicopters and commandos whenever asked for. But if it would be of federal law then accountability would be of the Centre. If persons like Veerappan can escape the authority of the states for so many years and still not be taken to task, this is the failure of the states and not ours. I would still say in future, if there is an opportunity the matter would be pursued,? Shri Advani said.