Congress ridicules Advani's yatra

NEW DELHI, MARCH 3. The Congress today described the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani's proposed "India Shining yatra" as an attempt to bridge the road from North Block (the Home Minister's Office) to South Block (the Prime Minister's Office), while the Communist Party of India dubbed it as an "effort at one-upmanship in the existing scheme of things."

The Congress also joined issued with the Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary, Pramod Mahajan, who had criticised the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi's "Jan Sampark Abhiyan" as a foreigner's attempt to get acquainted with the countryside.

"If Jan Sampark Abhiyan was foreign, would he (Mr. Advani) not meet the people on ground or is he in disagreement with Mr. Mahajan,'' the party leader, Salman Khursheed, said.

A party that was seeking votes in the name of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sending Mr. Advani on the road journey. "The intention is to place behind him (Mr. Vajpayee) another leader and replace him," he added.

The party reiterated that Mr. Advani's proposed "yatra" was in response to Ms. Gandhi's successful campaign.

The CPI said the proposed "yatra" raised apprehensions in the minds of the people. "This sinister move is a reminder of his earlier `rath yatra' which plunged the country into a tragic communal strife." It would be used to arouse communal passions and polarise the people.

The model code of conduct had underlined that political campaigning should refrain from raising communal, casteist and secrtarian issues, the CPI said and urged the Election Commission to take measures as per the code of conduct.