ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Keeping the Initiative

Keeping the Initiative A45-DAY 'yatra' covering 15,000 km in 14 states from Kanyakumari to Kashmir with the objective of spreading the message of national integration and of mobilising people for the urgent programme of creating order and unity out of the current chaos of India. This is a mission which is bound to have great appeal for the Hindu middle classes, even those who may have shied away from the acrimony of last year's Ayodhya yatra. This is precisely what the BJP is banking upon The party's objectives are clear: there is nothing surreptitious about its agenda. It hopes the yatra will aeutralise the acidity of its Hindutva project while at the same time broadening the scope of participation for the expanding cross-section of the people who are being affected directly by sectarian violence. This it is attempting to do at several levels: it is offering for adoration and worship an object generally and traditionally understood to be 'secular- mother India, the waters of her rivers and the soil of her earth replace Rama in the 'rath'. At a broader level the party has distanced itself a little from the temple-builders, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and others and to firm this up it has created the 'kesaria vahini', a volunteer youth force drawn from various states who have taken a pledge to lay down their lives for the country's unity and who will be travelling with the yatra. Thirdly, not only did the yatra begin on the day of Guru Tej Bahadur's martyrdom, but party president Murli Manohar Joshi undertook a special mini-yatra in Delhi on Guru Nanak's birth anniversary. And fourthly, according to Narendra Mody, the man who has planned the yatra, one of its targets "this time will be the tribals

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