L K Advani: Catalyst for BJP’s Ascent Through Rath Yatra

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February 4, 2024

L K Advani: Catalyst for BJP’s Ascent Through Rath Yatra

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced that veteran BJP leader L K Advani will be honored with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award. Advani, now 96, played a crucial role in transforming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into a national political force during the late 1980s and early 1990s. One of his significant contributions was the Rath Yatra in 1990, a pivotal event that stirred both communal tensions and fueled the rise of the BJP.
From Gandhian Socialism to Hindutva:
• The BJP, emerging in 1980, initially embraced Gandhian Socialism as its foundational ideology under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, the party faced a setback in the 1984 elections, prompting Advani to take charge and redirect its course. Advani shifted the focus towards Hindutva, recognizing the potential of the growing Ram Janmabhoomi Movement.
Encashment on the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement:
• In the late 1980s, Hindu nationalist organizations, especially the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), intensified efforts regarding the Ram temple issue. Advani seized the opportunity, pushing the BJP to officially adopt the Ram Janmabhoomi cause in the historic Palampur Resolution of 1989. The party, under Advani’s strategic leadership, quickly gained political prominence by addressing issues such as Sri Lanka, Kashmir, and the Bofors scandal.
The Rath Yatra:
• On September 25, 1990, Advani commenced the Rath Yatra from Somnath, Gujarat, with the aim of mobilizing pan-Hindu support for the construction of a Ram temple on the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. The Yatra, marked by religious symbolism and slogans, left a trail of communal violence in its wake. Despite this, it proved to be a success for Advani and the BJP, as it significantly contributed to the party’s impressive performance in the 1991 elections.
The Babri Demolition and After:
• The pinnacle of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement came on December 6, 1992, when kar sevaks demolished the Babri Masjid. Advani, present in Ayodhya that day, expressed later that the events bothered him. Nevertheless, the campaign’s political dividends were evident, as the BJP emerged as the second-largest party in the 1991 elections, securing 120 seats and forming the government in Uttar Pradesh.
• L K Advani’s Rath Yatra, while contributing to communal tensions, played a vital role in the BJP’s ascent to national prominence. The campaign, marked by both success and controversy, showcased Advani’s strategic political maneuvering, ultimately shaping the trajectory of the BJP and solidifying his position as a key figure in Indian political history.

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L K Advani: Catalyst for BJP’s Ascent Through Rath Yatra | Vaid ICS Institute