A procession. A journey. A pilgrimage. A word that symbolises an ancient Indian tradition that has evolved over the millennia.
A tradition that is at once universal as well as deeply rooted in that which is exclusively Bharatiya.
A tradition that bridges the gap between the ancient and the modern, the past and the present.
A tradition that is both inclusivist and participatory. A tradition held sacred for precisely these reasons.
In 1990, WHEN the nation faced one of the most severe crises in recent times with casteist forces threatening to tear asunder our social fabric on one hand and competitive communalism of the pseudo-secularists leading to the creation of fresh fissures on the other. Shri L. K. Advani stepped forward to lead the counter-offensive. He used the unique symbol of Sri Ram, the unequalled symbol of our oneness, or our integration, to unleash both our suppressed nationalist fervour as well as our aspiration to live the higher values.
For the first time an ancient tradition became the vehicle to mobilise public opinion. Shri 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.
And thus was forged a powerful weapon to mould public opinion, to awaken latent nationalism, to rekindle faith in the cultural unity of this vast land of ours.
As the nation marks the golden jubilee of its independence from foreign rule, Shri Advani has decided to embark upon another yatra. This will be a celebratory procession that will traverse the entire length and breadth of the nation. But this will also 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 is the fifth yatra undertaken by the BJP during the last eight years. As the Swarna Jayanti Rath begins to roll across the country, it would be appropriate to recall the last four yatras and the message that each one of them conveyed to the people.