Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Tuesday said building a Ram temple at Ayodhya was his mind's desire. “Until a temple is built in Ayodhya, I would not be content,” he said while delivering a lecture on electoral reforms here.
Though Mr. Advani mostly confined his lecture to aspects pertaining to electoral reforms and the desirability of State funding of polls, the lone reference to the temple post-Allahabad High Court verdict came when he talked about the earlier date he was invited to deliver the lecture here.
“I was to come here on October 25, the day I started the Somnath Yatra which could not be completed. I do not go anywhere on that day or do any work. I only visit Somnath temple for a darshan,” Mr. Advani said.
Talking about the poll reforms, the BJP leader said his party preferred simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies, an idea first mooted by the late Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.
Another poll “reform” by the BJP-ruled Gujarat — a Bill making it compulsory to vote in the panchayat elections — too came in for a favourable comment from Mr. Advani.
“The Bill passed by the Gujarat Assembly has been pending with the Governor for clearance for sometime. I hope it will be given a green signal,” he said.
During the lecture, Mr. Advani sought fresh reforms to curb the influence of money power in elections. “There should be a consensus on the issue of funding of elections.”
“To strengthen democracy, electoral reform has to be a continuing process. Our country has undertaken many reforms, but a lot still needs to be done, particularly with regard to curbing the influence of money power,” he said.
“The prevailing cynicism that nothing can be done with regard to money power must be shed. What the United Kingdom has achieved in this context has a lesson for us: as a student of poll reform in the U.K., I can affirm that elections in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries were shockingly corrupt,” he said.
The former Rajasthan Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje, State BJP president Arun Chaturvedi, and several senior BJP leaders were present at the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Memorial Lecture, which was organised by the Research and Development Foundation for Integral Humanism, headed by the former State BJP president, Mahesh Sharma.
Mr. Advani said his party had been a passionate advocate of poll reforms. “State financing of elections by itself is not going to solve all problems. Corruption is an evil which has to be attacked from all sides. What could be primarily achieved by a scheme of poll grants is that all parties and candidates in the field who really matter will be assured a minimum wherewithal of electoral campaigning,” he said.