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Among fellow yatris in Rahul’s Bharat Jodo march, former Cong, AAP comrades

Following Ghulam Nabi Azad's scathing attack on Rahul Gandhi on his way out of the Congress, a lot more eyes will now be tracking the 3,500-km-plus yatra, across 12 states and over 150 days.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi interacts with representatives of various civil society organisations during the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' conclave at New Delhi's Constitution Club. (PTI)

As part of its tightrope walk on the Bharat Jodo Yatra, that is to be Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s biggest mass-contact programme to date, the party has reached out to civil society groups, with the message that the march is bigger than about a person.

As that message is now set to be muddled following Ghulam Nabi Azad’s scathing attack on Rahul on his way out of the party, a lot more eyes will now be tracking the 3,500-km-plus yatra, across 12 states and over 150 days.

Among the civil society activists, part of the march, who will be also be watched closely:

Yogendra Yadav

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Before he embarked on an active career in politics, Yadav was a political commentator and senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, a member of the University Grants Commission and, from 2005-2012, one of the two Chief Advisors in Political Science for the NCERT who supervised the writing of new school textbooks for Political Science. In 2010 Yadav was appointed to the National Advisory Council to oversee the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Towards the end of the UPA II government, he became a strident opponent of the Congress as a part of the India Against Corruption movement and later the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

He now heads the Swaraj Abhiyaan or Swaraj Party that he founded in 2015, which has contested elections without making a mark. He was a part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha that led the farmers’ protest against the farm Bills.

In the 2019 general elections, Yadav had urged voters to choose NOTA in the as “no political parties have fulfilled their promises”, rephrasing the acronym as “No Till an Alternative”.

Aruna Roy

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A former civil servant who quit the services, Roy is a socio-political activist who co-founded the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in 1990. The organisation started off fighting for wages of workers and was instrumental in the advocacy to pass the MNREGA. The organisation was also at the forefront of the campaign that led to the RTI, as part of which Roy had worked with Arvind Kejriwal. They later fell out over Lokpal Bill differences.

Roy was part of the Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council, which had come under controversy for being an unelected body with undue influence on the UPA government.

Roy was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2000.

Devanoora Mahadeva

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Mahaveera is a Kannada author who emerged as a major literary voice in the 1970s. His short story collection Dyavanuru (1973) is considered a breakthrough in the Kannada literary scene. He has also written extensively on socio-political issues, with his recent book Aala Mattu Agala (RSS – Its Depth and Breadth) drawing attention in Karnataka for its record sales and criticism by BJP leaders.

An active member of the Swaraj Party headed by Yogendra Yadav, Mahadeva was among those who returned their Sahitya Akademi and Padma Shri awards in 2015 as a protest against the Modi government.

Ganesh Devy

Ganesh Devy, or G N Devy, is a writer and cultural activist best known for his People’s Linguistic Survey of India, which mapped the linguistic traditions of the country. He is the founder of the Adivasi Academy in Tejgarh in Madhya Pradesh for promotion of tribal art and culture. His literary theory book After Amnesia (1992) is considered a classic in literary theory.

In 2016, he launched the Dakshinayan (Southward) movement of artists, writers and intellectuals. He also returned his Sahitya Akademi Award in October 2015 as a mark of protest against the Modi government, and has been a bitter critic of the BJP.

Bezwada Wilson

Wilson is the founder and leader of the Safai Karmachari Andolan, which began in 1993 with the aim of eradicating manual scavenging and abolishing dry latrines in the country. The organisation has been at the forefront of pushing legal action to abolish the practice and is involved in rehabilitating former manual scavengers, their families and setting up of women’s self-help groups.

P V Rajagopal

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Rajagopal is a Gandhian activist and former vice-chairman of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, which conducts research on Gandhi’s thoughts. He is the president and founding member of the Ekta Parishad, a people’s movement for land rights.

Rajagopal is also credited to have played a significant role in the implementation of the Forest Rights Act.

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He was part of the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption movement, before turning away from it and Arvind Kejriwal when it took a political turn.

Sharad Behar

Sharad Chandra Behar is a former IAS officer, who was the founder and vice-chancellor of Guru Ghasi Das University, Bilaspur, from 1983 to 1987 and the vice-chancellor of Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism in Bhopal from 1999 to 2004.

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He is known to have taken part in various social movements through his career in the administrative services and has co-written and edited books on education.

During his time in the services, he was chief secretary to Congress leader Digvijaya Singh when he was the Madhya Pradesh chief minister. He also advised the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi on the mohalla sabha legislation.

Syeda Hameed

Hameed is a feminist and writer, writing on women and minority issues. She is the founding member of the Muslim Women’s Forum as well as founder trustee of the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia. She was earlier a member of the National Commission for Women, and of the Planning Commission under the UPA government.

She has written several books, including The Quilt and other stories, a translation of urdu writer Ismat Chugtai’s short stories and a biography of former Pakistan president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto titled Born to be hanged . She got the Padma Shri in 2007.

Anjali Bharadwaj

Bharadwaj is the founding member of Satark Nagrik Sangathan, an organisation working towards accountability and transparency since 2003. Bharadwaj is also part of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information that advocated for the RTI, as part of which she worked with Kejriwal. At present, the organisation provides legal aid in the arena.

She is credited with campaigning for the Whistleblowers Protection Act (2011), the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (2013) and the Grievance Redressal Bill.

First published on: 28-08-2022 at 01:13:52 pm
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