Popularly known in India as the Eternal Yatri or Eternal Charioteer, Advaniji has so far, undertaken 6 Yatras throughout India. Advaniji believes that a Yatra is a procession, a journey, a pilgrimage. The word symbolises an ancient Indian tradition that has evolved over the millennia. It is tradition that is at once universal as well as deeply rooted in that which is exclusively Bharatiya. This according to Advaniji, is a tradition that bridges the gap between the ancient and the modern, the past and the present.
Advaniji has undertaken more yatras than any other political figure in the country. While each yatra had a distinct objective, the purpose to create awareness and mobilize the masses towards a common goal was shared by all of them. The impact they had on the masses and on public opinion were phenomenal and led to other political leaders following his example. These yatras affected not just the party image but more importantly the people, and were instrumental in establishing Advaniji as a key leader of the masses.
Ram Rath Yatra - 25 September 1990
Advaniji started his first Rath Yatra from Somnath, Gujarat on 25 September 1990 to finally reach Ayodhya on 30 October 1990. Advani embarked upon his now famous Ram Rath Yatra -- while others were busy manipulating the levers of power in Delhi by taking recourse to religion and caste, the Bharatiya Janata Party took its message to the people who are the final arbiters in a democracy. At one level, the Yatra was a political 'procession', at another level it was a journey in search of the heart of India, a journey that was to span the land lying between shining shores and rising to the heights of the majestic Himalayas. At a third level, it was a pilgrimage whose end goal was a rashtra mandir built not of bricks and mortar but patriotic fervour and nationalist zeal. The yatra was stopped in UP by the then CM - Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Today, the BJP is one of the largest political party in the country, thanks to the journey that began from Somnath during the Navaratri of 1990. The procession that began with a handful of nationalists is today a roaring stream of nationalist fervour.
Janadesh Yatra - 11 September 1993
Four Yatras named Janadesh Yatra started on 11 September 1993 from four corners of the country. Advaniji led this yatra from Mysore. Travelling through 14 States and two Union Territories, the yatris congregated at Bhopal on 25 September in a massive rally. The purpose of Janadesh Yatrawas to seek the people's mandate against the two Bills, the Constitution 80th Amendment Bill and the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill.
The underpinning of these proposed legislations, as in the past, was minority appeasement and crass vote bank politics. The BJP stalled the Bills in Parliament and the debate was deferred, although the Bills were not withdrawn.
The BJP's opposition was aptly articulated by Advaniji:
"We strongly object to religion being translated as dharma... for the average Indian, irrespective of whether he is a Hindu, or a Muslim or a Christian, his respective religion is for him an inspiration for righteous conduct. By ousting religion from politics, we will only be weakening the moral base of public life... politics should be cleansed of adharma, not dharma. It should be rid of corruption and criminalisation, not of probity and integrity..."
Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra - May 1997
As the nation marked the golden jubilee of its independence from foreign rule, Advani decided to embark upon another Yatra. This would be a celebratory procession that will traverse the entire length and breadth of the nation. This was to be a journey with a noble purpose -- to rekindle the dimming flame of patriotism, to reweave the shattered dreams that Indians dreamt on August 15, 1947. More importantly, it will be a pilgrimage to pay homage to those who have laid down their lives at the altar of nationalism. This Yatra by Advaniji travelled across India between May and July 1997.
Advaniji recalls that his party members decided to pay homage to all the heroes and martyrs of the freedom movement by visiting places associated with them across the country. His young team of office-bearers and other colleagues then translated the idea into a concrete plan in the form of a nationwide road journey which came to be known as - Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra: Rashtrabhakti Ki Teerth Yatra (A Patriotic Pilgrimage). Travelling to places sanctified by the struggles and sacrifices of the heroes of the freedom movement, for Advaniji it was akin to undertaking pilgrimage. This he felt would help him strengthen his own as well as the BJP’s nationalist and idealist moorings.
Bharat Uday Yatra - March 2004
The Bharat Uday Yatra took place in the run-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha Elections. As the Government of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee entered the last year of its five-year term in September-October 2003, the BJP certainly found the situation encouraging. The Prime Minister’s popularity was at an all-time high. The economy was on the upswing. The steadily swelling foreign reserves had, for the first time, crossed the psychologically significant barrier of $100 billion, a far cry indeed from the time in 1990 when Forex reserves were so low that India had been forced to mortgage its gold to tide over a severe balance of payment crisis. Another national accomplishment was when India’s GDP growth in the second quarter of 2003 was recorded at 8.4 per cent.
Advaniji’s colleagues suggested that the campaign should be in the nature of a nationwide road journey; the suggestion, which he readily accepted, was crystallised in the form of the Bharat Uday Yatra, a thirty-three-day-long, 8,500-kilometres drive covering, in two stages, as many as 121 Lok Sabha constituencies in sixteen states.
Bharat Suraksha Yatra - 6 April 2006
The BJP launched a nationwide mass political campaign in the form of the Bharat Suraksha Yatra from 6 April to 10 May 2006. It consisted of two yatras – one led by Advani, Leader of the Opposition (Lok Sabha), from Dwaraka in Gujarat to Delhi; and the other led by Rajnath Singh, then the President of the BJP, from Jagannath Puri in Orissa to Delhi. The Yatra was focused on left wing terrorism, minority politics, corruption, protection of democracy and price rise.
The main purpose and objectives of the yatra which was -
- To safeguard National Security from jehadi terrorism and left-wing extremism
- To defend National Unity from the divisive politics of minorityism
- To rescue Governance from corruption and criminalization in high places
- To save Parliamentary Democracy from institutional misuse and Congress party’s fake culture of “sacrifice”
- To protect the “Aam Aadmi”, Garib and Kisans from the assaults of massive price rise, unemployment and debt
Jan Chetna Yatra - 11 October 2011
The Jan Chetna Yatra was launched on 11 October 2011 from Sitab Diara, Bihar, the native village of Sri Jayaprakash Narayan. The purpose of this Yatra led by Advaniji was to mobilise public opinion against corruption of the appalling UPA government and put BJP agenda of good governance and clean politics before the people of India, which it achieved with roaring success.
It culminated in a mammoth rally at the Ramlila ground today which was attended by top leaders of BJP & NDA. The large turn-out, rivaling any other that the nation has seen, turned the rally into a grand finale to this extremely successful yatra.
Advaniji himself called the Jan Chetna Yatra as the most successful of all his yatras, so far. But for the lakhs of workers and supporters in the country who probably witnessed this as their first Yatra, it was a memorable experience which was unprecedented in scale and effect.