KANYAKUMARI: The coastal town of Kanyakumari was buzzing with activity on Tuesday as Congress workers geared up for the launch of the “Bharat Jodo Yatra”, 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 made-in-India Khadi flag from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Wednesday and hand it over to Seva Dal workers, who will manage the yatra throughout its 3,570-km route from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
A final check of the preparations at the seaside venue of the rally near the “Mahatma Gandhi Mandapam” was carried out by Congress general secretaries K C Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh, along with senior party leader and yatra organisation panel in-charge Digvijaya Singh.
“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 polarisation 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 actually begin at 7 am on September 8 when Gandhi and several other Congress leaders will embark on the march.
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”.