New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday said its mass-outreach programme — the Bharat Jodo Yatra — would begin on 7 September from Kanyakumari and traverse 3,500 kilometres through 12 states to end in Kashmir over four months later.
The padyatra would be flagged off at 5 pm from the Gandhi Mandapam in Kanyakumari by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Party leaders would not reveal the extent of his or Sonia Gandhi’s participation in the 125-day march, leaving it at a cryptic: “That call will be taken later.”
Addressing the media at the Congress headquarters in Delhi on Tuesday, senior leaders Jairam Ramesh and Digvijay Singh confirmed Rahul Gandhi’s participation in the programme, but deflected questions on whether he would lead it. The party is scheduled to hold elections soon to find a new chief.
The leaders said the march would cover approximately 25 kilometres every day by foot. A core group of 100 to 150 people would actually go the whole distance.
The party also revealed the logo, slogan and website for the yatra. The slogan would be ‘Mile Kadam-Jude Vatan’, which roughly means “The country will be together if our steps are united”.
Rahul meets civil society to invite them for yatra
Jairam Ramesh said Rahul Gandhi met members of the civil society on Monday to invite people to participate.
“He spoke to them for about one-and-a-half hours and took their questions. He explained to them at length the context of the yatra and what its aim is,” Ramesh said.
Digvijay Singh further said while the padyatra would follow a linear path from Kanyakumari to Kashmir for logistical and geographical reasons, every state would have its own padyatra in tandem with the main yatra.
“There will be three kinds of participants,” Singh said.
“The core people, who will walk the entire distance, will be the Bharat Yatri. Second will be the Atithi Yatri who will come from states through which the main yatra is not passing. Third will be the Pradesh Yatri who will be from the in states through such the Yatra is passing. Each category will have about 100 people. At a given time, about 300 people will therefore be participating in the padyatra.”
The leaders also said participants would not be staying in hotels but in makeshift, ‘railway bogey’-type accommodations, hoisted on a trailer.
Later, Ramesh, who is the Congress General Secretary in-charge of Communications, said ‘Bharat Jodo’ was “the need of the hour”. He said, “Inflation, GST, unemployment are breaking India. Social polarisation is done in the name of religion, caste, language, food, clothes. In politics, the Centre is overpowering.”
Ramesh said the padyatra was a movement to create awareness among people. “This is a mass movement. We need to be aggressive. Our aim is to strengthen the Congress organisation… to get an opportunity to go to the people. In a way, this is preparation for the 2024 elections,” the leader said.
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