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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 April 2024

After Bharat Jodo, Rahul Gandhi to undertake Nyay Yatra from Manipur on January 14

Starting January 14 in Imphal, the 'Bharat Nyay Yatra' will culminate on March 20, probably just as the drumroll for the battle of 2024 is being sounded

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 28.12.23, 05:43 AM
Rahul Gandhi with wrestler Bajrang Punia at Chhara village in Jhajjar district of Haryana on Wednesday.

Rahul Gandhi with wrestler Bajrang Punia at Chhara village in Jhajjar district of Haryana on Wednesday. PTI picture.

Rahul Gandhi, who has persisted with his public outreach after completing the historic Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra, will embark on part two of his endeavour from devastated Manipur on a unity journey that will take him across the heart of India and culminate in Mumbai.

Starting January 14 in Imphal, the “Bharat Nyay Yatra” will culminate on March 20, probably just as the drumroll for the battle of 2024 is being sounded.

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Announcing the plan, general secretary in charge of the organisation K.C. Venugopal said: “The Nyay Yatra will cover a distance of 6,200km through 14 states and 85 districts. The yatra will witness walk by the participants daily but major distances will be covered by bus.”

The states that will fall on the route are: Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya, Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. In the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul, along with over 200 fellow travellers, covered 4,500 km on foot. The second phase will be hybrid in nature, with Rahul and party motoring across certain parts, in addition to portions where they will do the walk.

Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh said: “Rahul Gandhi raised three main issues in the Bharat Jodo Yatra: Economic inequality, social polarisation and political tanashahi. This yatra is for justice — economic, social and political. Democracy has to be saved, social harmony has to be restored and the people have to be empowered economically. Rahul will reassure the citizens of the country that the Congress is committed to deliver justice to them.”

Since he concluded the first phase of his yatra, Rahul has continued to reach out to different sections of society, meeting truck drivers, motor mechanics, carpenters, vegetable vendors, whole-sellers, agriculture workers and students. If he drove distances in Ladakh on motorcycle, marking his symbolic presence close to areas where China has occupied Indian territory, he was the first politician to have toured relief camps in strife-torn Manipur where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has still not gone.

Even on Wednesday, Rahul went to Haryana’s Jhajjhar village to meet wrestlers amidst an ugly controversy surrounding BJP Lok Sabha member Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh who was accused of sexually exploiting young female athletes during his tenure as chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

Though it was said Rahul only wanted to see the routine and practice of wrestlers, the symbolism of his moral support to the wrestlers embattled against the BJP leader and the Modi government is unmistakable.

What left no scope for any doubt about Rahul’s intention was the presence of Bajrang Punia at the akhara. Bajrang has been at the forefront of the protest against the WFI, staging a dharna at the Jantar Mantar protest site in Delhi along with other medal winners Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik.

Sakshi announced a teary exit from wrestling in protest against the continued patronage given to Brij Bhushan; Vinesh wrote to the Prime Minister of her resolve to return the Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards; Bajrang returned his Padma Shri award.

Priyanka Gandhi had met Sakshi soon after she made her emotional exit from the sport; Rahul’s visit to the akhara is being seen as a solidarity gesture even as he saw their drill, practised with them and ate bajra roti and sarson ka saag with the wrestlers. Though the Modi government suspended the WFI after Brij Bhushan planted his proxy at the top, leading to fresh rounds of protests, the issue has acquired political dimensions because the politically influential Jat community got sucked into the controversy.

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