“BJP's strident stand against corruption inspired my campaign”

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani said on Thursday that he wanted to restore the people's self-confidence, shattered by a slew of scams, through his Jan Chetna Yatra (JCY).

He was addressing a public rally after flagging off the Jan Swabhiman Yatra, led by Kalraj Mishra, a senior BJP leader in Uttar Pradesh, at Bharat Mata Mandir here.

Mr. Advani said the JCY had nothing to do with him or the BJP, but was driven by the aim of ending corruption. “If corruption is wiped out, the biggest benefit would accrue to India and Uttar Pradesh.” In the same breath, he added that it would not be possible to end corruption in the country till Uttar Pradesh, its largest State, was rid of it.

“How could India become powerful if there was so much corruption and a huge amount of its money was stashed away in foreign banks,” Mr. Advani asked. “In the last one-and-a-half to two years, many scandals such as the Adarsh housing scam, the CWG scam and the 2G spectrum scam, have rocked the country. The self-confidence of the people was shattered. As the government … of the day did nothing, it was left to the courts, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the CAG [to deal with the problem].”

He said the strident stand against corruption taken by the BJP in Parliament and the focus given by PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi (on the 2G spectrum scam) inspired his yatra. He lauded Dr. Joshi, the Varanasi MP, for highlighting the “role of the Prime Minister and the then Finance Minister, who is now the Home Minister, in the biggest scandal.”

He said the rise in the prices of essential commodities was attributed to corruption. If the black money stashed away in foreign banks was brought back, it would be enough to provide six lakh villages with electricity and drinking water.

Mr. Advani, who is into his sixth yatra, said the response of the people to his campaign on the first two days convinced him that it would be positive.

Mr. Advani entered Uttar Pradesh from Bihar on Wednesday. His public meeting planned on the grounds of the Indian Railway Institute at Mughalsarai ran into trouble after the Railways and the district administration refused permission. The railway authorities eventually agreed, and the meeting was held at 9.50 p.m.

Mr. Advani headed for Mirzapur, from where he will enter Madhya Pradesh, and Mr. Mishra led his yatra to Chandauli and Sonebhadra. Mr. Mishra will complete the first phase of his campaign at Jalaun on October 22.

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