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Young India, here comes Advani

By Krishnakumar P
February 20, 2009 19:48 IST
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After wooing netizens with his own website, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and prime ministerial candidate L K Advani will now target students.

Advani's campaign managers have now conceived a programme  called Advani@Campus where leading professionals from various fields will go to colleges and speak to students about Advani's vision for a young India.

The programme will start on Friday night when former Union minister Arun Shourie will open with a meeting at the Jawaharlal  Nehru University in New Delhi.

"We are planning to take this outreach programme to more than 5000 campuses in the country. Through this we are planning to take our three commitment for good governance, development and security to the students.

"His vision is something that will appeal to them," the BJP leader's political advisor Sudheendra Kulkarni told
Here's how Advani's managers are hoping the programme will work:

A professional from a particular field will go to a corresponding campus and talk to them about Advani's vision and his stand on issues.

"We designed it this way because students are bound to connect better with achievers from their own fields. So when a leading doctor or an engineer goes to a medical college or a engineering college, the students will be much more receptive than if someone in a kurta-pajama gives them a bhashan," Prodyut Bora, from the BJP's IT cell, said. Such sessions are bound to be interactive and yield better results, Bora said.

"If a top management guy goes to a management institute, people will listen to him. It's because though these people might not be celebrities, they are role models. And everyone wants to know what such people have to say," he said.

Asked if Advani himself, like Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, will go to campuses and engage the student community, Kulkarni said they have planned a couple of sessions where the leader would be addressing youngsters exclusively.

"He is running a national campaign. It is impossible for him to go to individual campuses and campaign. However, he will address the youth exclusively in other places. Like, we had an interaction in Delhi where he addressed 700 students in a programme. Similarly, we are planning a massive public rally in Pune towards the end of this month where he will address 100,000 youngsters," Kulkarni said.

Asked if the BJP feels the need to have young leaders in its ranks like the Congress grooming Rahul Gandhi, Kulkarni said:

"Who said the youth identify only with youngsters. Was APJ Abdul Kalam a youngster? Was Atalji a youngster? And moreover see how active Advani is. Can you show me one leader who is as active as Advani?" Kulkarni asked.

A party insider said the whole idea is the BJP's answer to the Congress ploy of sending Rahul Gandhi to campuses.

"This is classic guerilla warfare. If they have a Rahul Gandhi on campus, we are sending 100 Average Joes armed with the Advani's message and to whom the students will connect with easily. This way the message will be spread in a way that it would reach far and wide. Moreover, once the students are convinced, there is nothing that they can't do, and they will act as a self sustaining campaigning model," the source said.

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Krishnakumar P