More than 200 civil society members have appealed to the people to support the Congress’ upcoming ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ and similar initiatives by any other organisation to defend against the ”systematic assault” on the unity and democracy of India.
The 150-day ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ of the Congress will be launched on September 7. Covering 3,500 km, the march will be the Congress’ biggest ever public contact programme and Rahul Gandhi will walk ”all the way” from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
The objective of the march is to ”stir the conscience of the people in times when the constitutional values and democratic norms are being brazenly undermined” and the very idea of India has come under a ”systematic assault”, the civil society members said in a statement.
”Never before have the values of our republic faced as heinous an assault as they have in the recent past. Never before have hate, division and exclusion unleashed on us with such impunity… ”Never before have an overwhelming majority of the farmers and workers, Dalits and Adivasis, women and religious minorities faced such effective exclusion in the shaping of the nation’s future,” they alleged, adding the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is set to take place in the context of ”this grave national crisis”.
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This is a moment of reckoning. ”Every one of us needs to say: No, not on my conscience. At stake is our unique pluralistic social fabric, which is our greatest civilizational inheritance, reflected in our Constitution”, the civil society members said.
”Let us all make Bharat Jodo Yatra the decisive step towards renewing our pledge to reclaim an India that is a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic with liberty, equality, justice and fraternity as its guiding lights,” they added.
Swaraj India founder Yogendra Yadav, document filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, All India Secular Front’s Anil Sadgopal, rights activist Anjali Bharadwaj, theatre maker Anuradha Kapur, eminent journalist Mrinal Pande, former MP Dharamveer Gandhi and former IAS officers Abhijit Sengupta and Sujata Rao are among the 204 civil society members who signed to the appeal.
”We appeal to every Indian who takes pride in this great civilization and who believes in a great future for our nation to support the Bharat Jodo Yatra and similar initiatives undertaken by any other organisation to defend against a systematic assault on Indian unity and democracy,” they said.
They underlined that people’s movements have a consistent record of protesting against and resisting the unjust acts of any government, irrespective of the party in power, and will continue to do so.
”In extending one-time support to an initiative like the Bharat Jodo Yatra, we do not tie ourselves to a political party or a leader, but simply affirm our readiness to set aside partisan considerations and stand with any meaningful and effective initiative to defend our constitutional republic,” they clarified.
”Our engagement with this yatra can take multiple forms – we can do so as individuals, as groups, as a party; we can create participatory events; we can join as performers, as creative artists or as intellectuals and academics; and, we can join as yatris, as fellow travellers in this journey,” the civil society members added.