The 33-day yatra covered 128 parliamentary consti-tuencies and 8,540 kms. The blistering heat at Khariar Road at 44 degree in Orissa or the pleasing weather at Bangalore appeared to have made no difference to Advani´s determination to criss-cross the country in his campaign trail. The 76-year-old stalwart exhibited every quality of the iron man with youthfulness and without the slightest sign of tiredness.
When Advani began the last leg of his yatra from River Jonk bridge on Chhatisgarh-Orissa border, it became amply clear that his yatra would evoke a strong response in the next three days.
Advani thanked the accompanying Chhatisgarh Chief Minister, Dr Raman Singh and the party´s candidate from Mahasamund Lok Sabha seat, V.C. Shukla for the massive response to his yatra in their state. Orissa Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, state BJP president Manmohan Samal and other leaders of the BJP-BJD alliance gave him a warm reception on the Orissa border.
As his cavalcade moved forward, the crowd kept swelling. People waited, braving the scorching sun and high temperature to catch a glimpse of Advani.
“It was a forgone conclusion that in the 1952 general elections Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru would be the Prime Minister and now ask anybody in the country, the unambiguous answer would be that Atal Behari Vajpayee will be sworn in for yet another term as Prime Minister,” said the senior BJP leader while addressing a mammoth rally at Jagannathpuri, where he wound up his Bharat Uday Yatra.
By the time Advani reached Bolangir, he rightly took note of the continued backwardness of the state´s western region and promised to put Kalahandi-Bolangir- Koraput (KBK) region on the priority of the NDA government.
After Bolangir and Kalahandi Lok Sabha constituencies, he said that he was struck by the remarkable progress made in the KBK region in recent years.
Advani said the KBK region´s unfortunate synonym with dire poverty is gradually changing. “Today, the green field bears testimony to what focused development initiatives can do to this region.”
“The irrigation projects initiated by the NDA government have started yielding results and the food security measures have lifted people from a state of hopelessness,” Advani said.
While the BJP-BJD alliance in their joint election manifesto has promised to set up a KBK Development Authority with statutory powers to oversee developmental works of the region, the Deputy Prime Minister said several irrigation, power schemes and developmental works are in the pipeline for the KBK region.
33 days on wheels
On his last day of yatra, Advani, while talking to the press, said the ensuing election results would spring a few surprises and give Vajpayee a decisive mandate for a third term in the government. Advani said he is of this opinion judging from the warm and enthusiastic way the yatra was greeted throughout the country. Advani singled out Kerala, Bihar and Orissa for the extraordinary response to his yatra.
Advani throughout his yatra in Orissa promised that every one of the six lakh villages of the country would boast of good roads, drinking water, decent housing, proper school and adequate health care. Saying that this was his vision of a shining India, Advani said by 2020 or even before that India would be a fully developed country.
At Orissa the Deputy Prime Minister held the Congress solely responsible for the unemployment problem in the country.
He said unemployment was inherited by NDA from the 50 years of Congress regime. “As with many other problems, unemployment is the legacy of Congress misrule,” Advani said. However he maintained that the NDA government had tried its best to overcome the problem by correcting the wrong policies of the past.
Advani said, “In 1999, the NDA had promised to facilitate the creation of one crore employment and self employment opportunities each year. On an average, 84 lakh jobs have been created in last three years.”
Advani said NDA in its manifesto this time has reiterated the promise to create one crore new employment opportunities annually over the next five years. He added that the government would ensure faster economic growth with employment and equity.