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Congress calls 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' 'Turning point in Indian politics' ahead of the kickoff

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Congress calls Bharat Jodo Yatra Turning point in Indian politics ahead of the kickoff
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Kanyakumari: The Congress declared that the Wednesday kickoff of its "Bharat Jodo Yatra" represents a "new beginning" and a "turning point in Indian politics."

Rahul Gandhi, a former leader of the Congress, participated in a prayer gathering on Wednesday morning at the Rajiv Gandhi memorial in Sriperumbudur.

At 4:30 PM, he would be present at a meeting at Kanyakumari with M K Stalin, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Ashok Gehlot, and Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh.

Stalin will present a national flag made of khadi to Gandhi who will hand it over to Seva Dal workers who will manage the Yatra throughout.

"September 7 2022. A day when India's oldest political party will launch the longest padyatra ever undertaken. It is a sombre day, a day for quiet reflection and renewed resolve," Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet.

"This is a turning point in Indian politics. It marks a new beginning," he said.

With the launch of the 3,570 km Yatra at a mega rally here, the Congress is seeking to flag economic disparities, social polarisation and political centralisation, while attempting to make gains in what is often described as a battle of ideologies.

After the event at the Mahatma Gandhi Mandapam where Stalin will be present, Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders will walk to the seaside venue of the rally where the yatra will be formally launched.

Sources said a message from the Congress president could be read or a video message from her be shown at the event.

Sonia Gandhi's mother passed away recently in Italy. Both she and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are abroad. Rahul Gandhi arrived in Chennai Tuesday night.

Ramesh had said Tuesday that the Yatra is a "transformational moment for Indian politics and it is a decisive moment for the rejuvenation of the party".

In a video message, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra urged people to join the Yatra wherever possible.

She asserted the Yatra was needed as "negative politics was being practised in the country and real issues were not being discussed".

It aims to put focus on people's issues such as price rise and unemployment, she has said.

The Congress has asserted its Yatra is not a 'Mann Ki Baat', but to ensure people's concerns reach Delhi.

It has classified 119 leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, as 'Bharat Yatris' who will walk the entire route.

About 30 per cent of 'Bharat Yatris' are women. The average age of Bharat Yatris is 38.

About 50,000 citizens have also registered to participate in the Yatra.

To coincide with the launch of the Yatra on Wednesday, 'Prarthana Sabhas' will be held by the Congress' state units at 5 pm, a leader said.

At 7 am Thursday, 10 km foot marches will be held at the block level.

After reaching Kerala on September 11, the Yatra will traverse through the state for the next 18 days, reaching Karnataka on September 30. It will be in Karnataka for 21 days before moving north.


Kanyakumari geared up to launch the Yatra

The coastal town of Kanyakumari was buzzing with activity as Congress workers geared up for the launch of the "Bharat Jodo Yatra" this evening, which the party is touting as its biggest mass contact programme since Independence and a "turning point" in India's political history.

Posters with "welcome Rahul Gandhi" and "Bharat Jodo Yatra" written in Tamil adorned the walls of the city on India's southern tip.

Flags and flyers have been put up leading up to the "Mahatma Gandhi Mandapam", where Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will receive a Khadi flag from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and hand it over to Seva Dal workers.

"There is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement among the Congress workers across the country," Ramesh told PTI.

"Even in states that are not on the yatra route, people are excited as in each state, the Congress will organise similar yatras on a smaller scale -- maybe 50-km, 100-km yatras linked to the main theme of uniting India, an India that is being torn apart by economic inequalities, social polarization and over-centralisation," the former Union minister said.

In an apparent dig at the BJP-led Centre, Ramesh said it will not be a yatra of speeches where announcements are made.

Gandhi, accompanied by 118 Congressmen and women, will interact with various groups, including civil society organisations and fishermen associations, he said.

"The party is focused and geared up for making the Bharat Jodo Yatra successful because it is the largest mass mobilisation programme that it has undertaken in independent India," Ramesh said.

"It is the longest yatra undertaken by the party. It is a turning point for Indian political history. Padyatras (foot marches) have a significance of their own and this is transformational politics. This is what politics is about, not the politics of abuse, vendetta and vilification," he added.

Though the 3,570-km yatra from Kanyakumari to Srinagar, covering 12 states and two Union territories in about five months, will be formally launched at the rally, it will begin at 7 am on September 8 when Gandhi and several other Congress leaders will embark on the march.

The march will move in two batches from 7 am to 10:30 am and from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm.

While the morning session will include fewer participants, the evening session will see mass mobilisation.

The participants plan to walk around 22 to 23 km daily.

Before the launch of the yatra, Gandhi will also visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, the Thiruvalluvar statue and the Kamaraj Memorial in Kanyakumari.

The yatra will start from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and then move northwards, passing through Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Nilambur, Mysuru, Bellary, Raichur, Vikarabad, Nanded, Jalgaon, Indore, Kota, Dausa, Alwar, Bulandshahr, Delhi, Ambala, Pathankot and Jammu, before culminating in Srinagar.

Those participating in the yatra have been classified as "Bharat Yatris", "Atithi Yatras", "Pradesh Yatris" and "Volunteer Yatris".

The tagline of the yatra is "Mile Kadam, Jude Watan".


With PTI inputs


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TAGS:Bharat Jodo Yatra congress Rahul Gandhi Sonia Gandhi 
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