The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dandi rerun in Gujarat offensive

New Delhi, Jan. 30: On Martyrs' Day today, the Congress recalled the Other Gandhi ' the one that does not reside in 10 Janpath ' and announced it will retrace his steps on the Dandi march in a re-enactment of the event that signalled a high in the struggle against British colonialism 75 years ago.

But the 2005 version of the historic procession is a Congress foray into a final frontier ' it will signal the beginning of the party's organised campaign against the BJP and the Sangh parivar in Narendra Modi's Gujarat.

The Dandi march was but just one step in the path taken by Gandhi in his emergence as the Father of the Nation. In the fond wishes of Congress leaders, the re-enactment of the march will provoke a tide to pulverise the Sangh parivar where it is strongest ' in Gujarat. This Dandi march will be led by a Gandhi too, the one that resides in 10 Janpath.

The Dandi march replay will begin on March 12, on the 75th anniversary of the original event that was led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to challenge a British colonial monopoly. Needless to say, the 2005 version will have a more immediate objective ' to challenge Modi.

Sonia Gandhi will lead the inaugural leg of the march and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will participate. The Congress' materfamilias will in effect lead the challenge against Modi and throw down the gauntlet in the state where the BJP is probably the strongest and the Sangh parivar has deep roots. This is the party's most organised event in Gujarat since 2002.

Even in the wake of the riots and in the last elections, when the Congress surprised itself by its performance despite not winning a majority, the party was at best putting up a weak-hearted response to Modi's juggernaut.

The 26-day march will conclude at Dandi on April 6 after starting from Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.

Party leaders Sunil Dutt and Motilal Vora and Gandhi's grandson, Tushar Gandhi, who is also the chief trustee of the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, announced the programme of the march here today.

Dutt said the march will be open to all.

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