At a time when the whole nation is struggling with increasing prices of all essential commodities, Rahul Gandhi, a Member of the Parliament from the Indian National Congress decided to start a Padayatra (foot journey) from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and spread a message of Peace, Prosperity, Unity and Love among all communities without any caste, creed color, and religion.
The padayatra which was titled and named ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ started from Kanyakumari on 07 Sep 2022 with a slogan of ‘Nafrat Ke Bazaar Mea Mohabbat Ki Dukan’, (in the market of hate there is a shop of Love). The campaign was joined widely by several leaders of the Congress party and other regional parties of state across the country.
Earlier the Bharat Jodo Yatra was limited to its own party workers but as the yatra continued, it was getting an overwhelming response from every section of society, and various organizations and political groups had changed the whole wind of hate into love among every section.
While the spotlight has firmly been on Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, a band of “Bharat Yatris” walking along with him have quietly gone about their job. Clocking kilometer after kilometer, they moved towards their goal of reaching here and several of them say they would be the first ones to sign up for another such foot march.
Initially, there were about 120-odd designated “Bharat Yatris”, part of a core group that was supposed to accompany Rahul Gandhi in the foot march, but as the yatra entered Jammu and Kashmir that number stands at 204, bringing to life the Urdu couplet — “Main akela hi chala tha jab-e-manzil magar log saath late gaye aur karwan banta gaya (I began my journey alone, people joined in and the caravan kept on growing).” The yatra, which was launched on September 7 in Kanyakumari, has traversed 12 states and two Union Territories and culminated with the national flag hoisting at the Congress office on 30 January 2023. (Rahul Gandhi writes in a tweet).
Rahul Gandhi has shown incredible stamina, and a will to complete what he embarked on, instead of running abroad halfway—which he was known for. Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly said that his yatra has no political or electoral objective and the sole objective was to spread the message of love, fraternity, communal harmony, and unity. These cannot be neatly labeled as ‘political’ or ‘electoral’; hence, the BJP and other critics are flummoxed. The BJP has found irrational grounds to criticize the yatra.
The BJP was alarmed by the overwhelming response that Gandhi received during the Yatra. Some things have to be seen to be believed.
Rahul Gandhi covered a distance of 4,080 km across 75 districts of the country, starting from Kanyakumari in September last year, which culminated at the Nehru Park in the boulevard area of Srinagar despite heavy snowfall, wherein the party held a public rally attended by opposition parties from various political groups and hoist the flag at the Congress party’s headquarters at Maulana Azad Road.
On the occasion of the culmination of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that though Opposition parties may have their differences, they will stand united against the agenda of RSS-BJP. Addressing a press conference, Gandhi said, “Bharat Jodo Yatra was from South to North but had a national effect” among every section of the society.
Gandhi, accompanied by his sister Priyanka Gandhi, hoisted the Tricolour at Lal Chowk, the day before the culmination of the yatra where it recalled that, it was Rahul’s great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, who first unfurled the Tricolour at Lal Chowk in 1948 when the National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah declared his alliance with Nehru.
Speaking about the change of plans, Jairam Ramesh said that earlier the party did not get permission to unfurl the flag anywhere other than the Congress headquarters, but “last evening, state administration allowed him (Rahul) to do so in Lal Chowk, but under the condition that it should be done today on 29th at end of Bharat Jodo Yatra.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on the occasion said, ‘It has received a great response in the country. We saw the resilience and strength of the people of India during this journey. We also got to hear about the issues being faced by farmers, and unemployed youth in the country.
Earlier before entering Jammu and Kashmir, the NC Chief along with hundreds of party workers reached Lakhanpur to welcome and receive Bharat Jodo Yatra wherein various regional parties also joined the yatra at various locations in the Jammu region. A controversial and mass leader Choudary Lal Singh also joined and welcomed Bharat Jodo yara in Kathua despite creating a great misconception among others for which Rahul Gandhi while addressing the media in Jammu apologies for the same mishappening with Chaudhary Lal Singh.
PDP President Mehbooba Mufti day before the culmination said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi unfurled the national flag here under “different circumstances” when Jammu and Kashmir had been turned into a military garrison and assurances given by the Constitution demolished by the BJP. She said former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru’s first unfurling of the tricolor in Kashmir in 1948 amongst a sea of people was a momentous occasion marked by celebrations. “Today history stands witness as RG (Rahul Gandhi) unfurled the same flag albeit under completely different circumstances at a time when Jammu and Kashmir had been turned into a military garrison. Assurances given by Indian Constitution have been demolished by BJP and are a complete betrayal,” (Mehbooba said in a series of tweets.)
As Rahul Gandhi meets people from all walks of life on his Bharat Jodo Yatra, in Jammu and Kashmir he met up with two young kids who showed off their Taekwondo skills to the Congress leader.
In Jammu and Kashmir the Bharat Jodo Yatra gained a momentum as such after the Abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A , that first time such yatri was organised by Congress party to meet out the general society on grassroot level without any political rally. Tough the criticism was at the peak by BJP workers but the patience of the yatries have healed up the pain of common masses with a message of peace and love.
Welcomed by thousands holding the Congress flag and shouting slogans of “Jodo, Jodo Bharat Jodo” and “Chhodo, Chhodo Nafrat Chodo”, Rahul Gandhi covered barely a kilometer of the Bharat Jodo Yatra after entering Kashmir and had gained momentum and overwhelming response across the country from every section of the society. It’s now time to see what the future will be decided by the voters across the Nation and whether it will be seen as a ruler of the country after the 2024 elections.