The Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra resumed on Tuesday after a year-end break with a milling crowd and several leaders joining Rahul Gandhi, who was described by his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as a ”warrior” who is not afraid of the might of the government.
The yatra had taken a nine-day break on December 24. The second leg of the journey began this morning from the national capital’s Kashmiri gate area and passed through the busy streets of Delhi.
The police had made elaborate arrangements amid heavy deployment of force after the Congress alleged lapses in Rahul Gandhi’s security when it entered the national capital on December 24.
The yatra started from the Hanuman Mandir at Kashmiri Gate at 10 AM as it made its way through the busy Outer Ring Road. Traffic in several parts of the city on the Ring Road was thrown out of gear.
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Party workers lined up on both sides of the road along the Ring Road in Delhi, with top leaders according a rousing reception to the yatra. The yatra then reached the Loni border in Ghaziabad where Rahul Gandhi was welcomed by leaders and workers including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Among those who joined the yatra in Delhi included AICC general secretary K C Venugopal, party MP Pramod Tiwari, Delhi Congress chief Anil Kumar Chaudhary and other Congress leaders like Ambika Soni and Abhishek Dutt. Former Congress member and now Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also joined Rahul Gandhi. Party’s Uttar Pradesh Congress chief and former MP Brijlal Khabri and CLP leader in Uttar Pradesh Aradhna Mishra were among those present at the Loni border. Later, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah also joined at Ghaziabad.
Former RAW chief Amarjit Singh Dulat joined Rahul Gandhi in Delhi before it reached the Uttar Pradesh border.
Priyanka Vadra welcomed her brother in presence of leaders of the Uttar Pradesh Congress and Delhi Congress. She is also the AICC general secretary in-charge for Uttar Pradesh.
The yatra flag was handed over to the leaders of the state at a specially made stage where brother-sister bonding was on full display as Rahul Gandhi hugged and kissed Priyanka Vadra sitting side by side.
Vadra claimed big industrialists like ”Adani and Ambani may have bought many a politician, PSUs and the media”, but ”they have not been, and will never be, able to buy my brother”.
People say Rahul Gandhi does not feel cold even in winter, this is because ”he is wearing the shield of truth,” the Congress leader said.
Rahul Gandhi, who was constantly seen wearing white T-shirts even in extreme chilly conditions, has found media and politicians alike wondering why he does not feel cold.
Vadra said she was proud of welcoming the yatra, which entered Uttar Pradesh traversing 3,000 kms from Kanyakumari.
”Look at my elder brother, I take the maximum pride in you. Because the establishment put all its pressure. The government spent thousands of crores to destroy his image.
”But, he did not deter from the path of truth. Agencies were deployed but he did not feel afraid, as he is a warrior,” she said to thunderous applause at the Loni border.
”Adani ji, Ambani ji bought big politicians, bought all PSUs, the media, but they could not buy my brother and will never be able to do so. I am proud of him and of everyone else,” she also said.
She said Rahul has opened ”the shop” to spread love in the ”market of hatred” and was marching to unite the people.
”I urge everyone in Uttar Pradesh to open a franchise of this ‘mohabbat ki dukaan’ (shop to spread love),” she said. Earlier, AICC in-charge for Delhi affairs of the party Shaktisinh Gohil said he saw a great turnout in Delhi and leaders of various opposition parties will join the yatra.
”The yatra has been a huge success and we have received a great response from the public,” he said.
Senior Congress leader Jai Prakash Agarwal said the yatra is echoing the voice of the citizens.
”He’s interacting and listening to the problems of the common man. So far, the yatra has been very successful. We have received an overwhelming response,” he noted.
The yatra will travel though Uttar Pradesh for two days and will enter Haryana’s Panipat by Thursday evening. On the first night on Tuesday, it will halt at Mavikala in Baghpat.
After traversing Punjab and a day through Himachal Pradesh, the yatra will enter Jammu and Kashmir.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra, which started from Kanyakumari on September 7, will end with the hoisting of the national flag by Rahul Gandhi in Srinagar on January 30.
The yatra has so far covered 3,122 km from Gandhi Mandapam in Kanyakumari to the Red Fort in Delhi.
Over the 108 days, the Yatra has covered 49 districts in nine states and one Union Territory — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi.
So far, there have been 87 sitting interactions of 30-40 min with various groups, usually 20-30 people in each group, the Congress said.
These groups raise various issues of the localities and states we are walking through and there have been over 200 planned walks with smaller groups of 4-5 people, which range from celebrities to intellectuals to activists to ex-servicemen to local children.
To convey the message of the yatra, there have been 95 corner meetings, where Rahul Gandhi makes a short speech about the message of the yatra at the end of the day. In addition, 10 large public meetings have been held, to which lakhs of people have attended. There have also been nine press conferences so far, the last one being in Delhi on December 31.