SRINAGAR: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had sent a message to his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and mother Sonia Gandhi before the Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Jammu and Kashmir, saying that he was “going to his home”.
This was narrated by Rahul Gandhi’s sibling Priyanka Gandhi at a rally to mark the culmination of the nearly five month-long Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
Later, Rahul Gandhi said he had tears in his eyes when Priyanka Gandhi talked about his message.
The Gandhis have their familial roots in Jammu and Kashmir.
In her remarks at the rally at the Sher-e-Kashmir stadium which was attended by several Opposition leaders as well, Priyanka Gandhi said the politics that is happening cannot benefit the country.
“The politics that divides, harms the country,” she said.
“My brother has been walking for the last five months from Kanyakumari to Srinagar. At the start, I thought it was a long journey, whether people would come out or not. But they came out everywhere from Kanyakumari to here,” the Congress general secretary said.
“They came out because people of the country have a spirit for the country’s constitution, its unity,” she said.
Priyanka Gandhi thanked the people of Jammu and Kashmir for welcoming the yatra with open hearts.
“When my brother was about to reach Jammu and Kashmir, he sent a message to me and my mother saying that he was getting a feeling that he was going to his home,” she said.
“He (Rahul) had said that ‘my family members (people of Jammu and Kashmir) , when they meet me and hug me, they have tears in their eyes, their pain and sentiments touch my heart’,” she said.
Priyanka Gandhi said she felt proud standing here that the Congress carried out a yatra which was supported by the whole country.
In a way the yatra has been spiritual for the Congress leaders who participated, the leaders of other parties who took part, ‘Bharat Yatris’ and Rahul Gandhi, she said.
“It is our duty to protect the foundation of this country built on the basis of truth, ‘ahimsa (non-violence)’ and love,” she said.
Priyanka Gandhi said the ‘Bharat Yatris’ have shown the way of love and brotherhood.
“They have shown us a ray of hope. I hope that the hate will end and love will take the country forward and unite everyone,” she said.
Former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah said on Monday that they see a ray of hope in Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
As the two leaders invoked Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary while praising Rahul Gandhi for the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Abdullah also urged the former Congress president to undertake another ‘yatra’ from west to east of the country and promised to join the march “to spread the message of peace, brotherhood and love”.
“I welcome Rahul ji and others. Rahul ji said he has come to Kashmir to his home. Rahul ji, this is your home.
“I hope that whatever has been taken from Jammu and Kashmir and this country, by (Nathuram) Godse’s ideology, will be returned by a Gandhi, and not just to J-K, but to the whole country,” Mufti, the chief of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said at the rally to mark the culmination of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Both Mufti and Abdullah had joined Gandhi in his walk during the Jammu and Kashmir leg of the Yatra.
Mufti said the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi had said in 1947 at the time of the Partition that he sees a ray of hope in J-K.
“Today, the whole country sees that ray of hope in Rahul Gandhi,” the PDP chief said.
Echoing Mufti’s sentiments, National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah said the Yatra has rekindled the ray of hope in the whole of the country.
“Mehbooba Mufti was correct. Today, (MK) Gandhiji was martyred. Gandhiji in 1947 said he sees a ray of hope in J-K. This yatra, perhaps, has once again rekindled that ray of hope in the whole country,” Abdullah said.
Congratulating the former Congress president and the party on his behalf and that of his father Farooq Abdullah and the NC, the junior Abdullah said the Yatra has truly been very successful.
“This country was in a dire need of this Yatra,” he added.
The NC leader said there has been an attempt to give an impression to the world that there is only one thinking in this country which is of “Sangh Parivar which is communal”.
“But, this Yatra has proved that while there are those who like the BJP, but there are also those who want new politics without the BJP, who want a fresh thinking, who want brotherhood and want to live in peace and with love and affection with each other,” he said, adding the “BJP cannot give this thinking”.
Calling upon Gandhi to unite the country’s east and west through another Bharat Jodo Yatra, Abdullah said he will also take part in it to spread the message of peace, brotherhood and love.
“Rahul, your Yatra joined south India with the north. I know you need some rest as you have been walking continuously since September, but, I request you that perhaps, time has come to join eastern India with the west through a Bharat Jodo Yatra.
“We got to walk a bit with you on this Yatra. There is a vast part of the country from east to west which I have not seen. If you walk from east to west, then God willing, it will be my endeavour to walk with you and spread the message of peace, brotherhood and love,” he said.
Speaking amidst heavy snowfall, Abdullah said the fresh snowfall in the Valley was a good omen.
“You (Gandhi) brought snow to Srinagar. We had been waiting for this for long. This snow is a good omen, there is betterment for us in this snow. While the snow affected the programme, it has brought light to our lives, for which we thank you as well,” the NC vice president said.
The yatra culminated on Monday with an event at the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) headquarters in the Lal Chowk area here and the rally at the stadium.
The yatra traversed 12 states and two Union territories in over 140 days after its launch on September 7 last year, clocking over 4,000 km.