After paying homage and meditating on September 7 at the Sriperumbudur memorial near Chennai, the site of the assassination of his father Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will launch the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ (Uniting India rally) in Kanyakumari. The yatra is being billed by the party as the longest rally mounted in the country over the last century.
Urging everyone to participate in the yatra, the Congress last week stated that the rally is meant to provide an alternative to the ‘”politics of fear, bigotry and prejudice” and to the economics of livelihood destruction, increasing unemployment and growing inequalities.
The Congress unveiled a logo, tagline, pamphlet and website for the yatra. The tagline or slogan for the nationwide foot march is “mile kadam, jude vatan” (walk together, unite the country).
Speaking at the launch, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said anyone willing can join Rahul by registering on the website – http://www.bharatjodoyatra.in.
The Opposition party released the anthem of the yatra on Monday. It was launched at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi at a press conference addressed by party general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh.
During the conference, the Congress asserted that its ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ from Kashmir to Kanyakumari is not a ‘Mann Ki Baat’ in any manner, but its objective is to ensure that the concerns and demands of the people reach Delhi.
Senior leaders and party spokespersons addressed press meets at 28 locations on Monday to stress the need for the Bharat Jodo Yatra launching on September 7 in Kanyakumari.
Ramesh said the Yatra will also be live streamed on its official website.
Before the launch, Rahul Gandhi will take part in a prayer meeting at former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial in Sriperumbudur and attend an event in Kanyakumari where Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel will be present. Here, the former Congress chief will be handed over a Khadi national flag.
After the event at the Mahatma Gandhi Mandapam where Stalin will be present, Rahul, along with other Congress leaders, will walk to the venue of the public rally where the yatra will begin.
Though the 3,570-km yatra from Kanyakumari to Srinagar will be formally launched at the rally, it will actually begin at 7 am on September 8 when Rahul and several other Congress leaders will embark on the journey.
The ‘padayatra’ will move in two batches, one from 7-10:30 am and the other from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. While the morning session will include a lesser number of participants, the evening session will see mass mobilisation. On an average, the padyatris will walk around 22-23 km daily, Ramesh said.
He said simultaneously with the main yatra, there will be separate small Bharat Jodo Yatras’ in states such as Assam, Tripura, Bihar, Odisha, Sikkim, West Bengal and Nagaland.
The padyatra (foot march) will begin in Kanyakumari on September 7 and culminate in Jammu. The yatra will go on in Tamil Nadu for four days, from September 7 to 10. From the next day, the yatra would continue from neighbouring Kerala.
It will cover a distance of 511 kilometres across 21 days in Karnataka, the party’s state president D K Shivakumar said on Monday.
“Of the 511 km in our state, there are some places covering forest areas. The yatra in those regions will be decided by AICC after discussing with local authorities and police. The yatra will be for 21 days in the state covering eight districts and all our leaders and workers will participate,” Shivakumar said. He added that the distance to be covered every day will be decided based on the local conditions and visits to be made locally.
The march will cover 12 states and two Union territories. It will be about 3,500-km long and will be completed in about 150 days, senior party leader Jairam Ramesh told reporters last week.
What are the preparations underway?
Security officials visited the Sriperumbudur memorial as part of the preparatory drill. Congress party sources told PTI that work is on to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made at Sriperumbudur and taking into account the objective of the party’s nation-wide yatra.
Prayers, a theme based on the Tricolour to invoke nationalist sentiments to dislodge the BJP regime at the Centre are among the topics that are being deliberated.
Why the halt at Sriperumbudur?
Rahul Gandhi’s father and former PM Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber on 21 May, 1991 in Sriperumbudur. This is Rahul’s first visit to his memorial, which was opened in 2003.
Rahul seeks participation of 150 civil society organisations
Rahul held a meeting with civil society members at a conclave recently where the plans for the party’s yatra were shared and deliberated upon.
The ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra Conclave’ was attended by over 150 civil society organisations, professionals and Unions with the likes of Aruna Roy, Syeda Hameed, Sharad Behar, P V Rajgopal, Bezwada Wilson, Devanoora Mahadeva, GN Devy and Yogendra Yadav, participating in it.
Several prominent civil society members and political leaders, including Yogendra Yadav, Jairam Ramesh and Digvijaya Singh, were present during the meeting held at the Constitution Club in Delhi. Earlier, Singh presented the details of the “Bharat Jodo Yatra” to the civil society delegates and invited those speaking up on people’s issues to participate in it.
Rahul said at the conclave that the yatra is like a “tapasya” for him and that he is ready for the “long battle” to unite the country.