SHAMLI: The Bharat Jodo Yatra is a medium to fight the ''divisive'' ideology of the BJP and the RSS, and it is not an event but a movement that will continue, Congress general secretary in-charge of communication Jairam Ramesh said on Thursday.
Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he alleged that the country is facing three major challenges -- social inequalities, polarisation and political dictatorship. These have been caused by the ''intention and policies of our prime minister'', Ramesh said.
The Rahul Gandhi-led yatra, which was joined by several people as it traversed through Shamli district, will end its journey in the evening in the politically crucial state that sends 80 members to Lok Sabha and enter Haryana for a second time.
The former Congress chief was again seen wearing a white T-shirt that he has sported for much of the journey. ''People of the BJP say that Bharat is not broken, then what is the need for a Bharat Jodo Yatra. I would like to say that there are three major challenges before us -- growing social inequalities, social polarisation and political dictatorship,'' Ramesh said while addressing a press conference in Uncha village here.
''These problems are being promoted by the intentions and policies of our prime minister and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). The Bharat Jodo Yatra is being carried out to fight against the divisive ideology,'' he said. Ramesh, a former Union minister, apparently referring to Modi's monthly radio address 'Mann ki Baat' said that the Kanyakumari-Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra is not 'mann ki baat ki yatra'. Gandhi listens more and speaks less, he said.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra is not an opportunity for speeches. People from various social groups, including farmers, dalits, adivasis, women and retired army personnel, walk and meet with Gandhi who listens to their problems, Ramesh said.
The yatra has been taken out to understand the concerns of the people and it is not ''an event but a movement and it will continue,'' the Congress leader asserted.
He claimed that today the country is witnessing a direct fight between two ideologies, one represented by the BJP and the RSS, and the other by the Congress.
''Electoral politics is a different thing. But the fight of ideologies will take several years because the poison of polarisation has reached everywhere in our society. The poison of the RSS and the division (are) which the prime minister spreads everywhere,'' Ramesh alleged.
There has also been an ''attempt to trample our diversity in the last 10 years'', he said, adding that ''these things will take time to be fought''.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra, which started from Kanyakumari on September 7, will end with the hoisting of the national flag by Gandhi in Srinagar on January 30. The march has so far covered nine states and one Union Territory -- Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi.
The yatra has invigorated Congress workers and the party will take the success of this march to the block, district and state levels through 'Haath se Haath Jodo Yatras' from January 26 to March 26, Ramesh said ''Several workers of the RLD ( Rashtriya Lok Dal) joined us on Wednesday in Baghpat. We can say that we have the support of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP),'' he said.
''The yatra is not for uniting the opposition but the unity of the opposition can be an outcome of the yatra. If the Congress is strengthened, the unity of the opposition will be strengthened. A weak Congress cannot strengthen the unity of the opposition,'' he said.
Local leaders and activists, including RLD Shamli district unit chief Rampal Dhama, whose party is an alliance partner of the SP in Uttar Pradesh, joined the yatra in Baghpat on Wednesday.
RLD national secretary Raj Kumar Sangwan told PTI in Baghpat on Thursday that party workers are welcoming the Bharat Jodo Yatra wherever its going in the state.
Party regional head Chaudhary Yogendra Singh said workers under the leadership of Shamli district president Wajid Ali welcomed the yatra in the district and joined it.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawat have extended moral support to the yatra.
Taking a jibe at the state of roads in Baghpat and Shamli in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Ramesh said, ''In the last two days, the challenge for us was not cold weather, it was the bad roads. I have not seen such bad roads anywhere. The leaders should come here and see the state of roads.'' Of the 200 Bharat yatris who have been part of the march from Kanyakumari, 23 are from Uttar Pradesh, he said.
Thursday marked the 111th day of the Bharat Joda Yatra which has covered 2300 km and 94 districts so far.
The yatra resumed its journey around 6 am on Thursday after halting for the night at Ailum village here, with scores of people carrying the Tricolour marching through the hinterland, despite biting cold.