Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, along with several party leaders, embarked on the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' from Kanyakumari on Thursday, 8 September, marking the beginning of a challenging journey through which the party is seeking to reach out to people and rejuvenate its organisation.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi who is abroad for medical reasons sent a virtual message saying, "This is a landmark occasion for our great party with such a glorious legacy – the Indian National Congress. I am confident that our organisation will be rejuvenated. It is also a transformational moment in Indian politics.”
The message was read out at the rally on Wednesday, 7 September. She said that she will be present at the Bharat Jodo Yatra in "thought and spirit."
Speaking after the Bharat Jodo Yatra started, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the Congress is "focussed like Arjun was focussed on the fish when he went for Draupadi's swayamvar. We have only one single vision right now: to ensure the successful completion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra."
"I don't want to waste my time countering the arguments from the other side. There will always be professional critics, arm-chair critics, people who will raise questions in India for everything you do," Ramesh added in response to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders criticising the padyatra.
Rahul Gandhi Hoists National Flag Ahead of Padyatra
Gandhi began the padyatra from Agasteeswaram in Kanyakumari, along with 118 'Bharat Yatris' and other party leaders from across the country.
On Wednesday, Gandhi had commenced the party's ambitious 'Bharat jodo' yatra with an assertion that he will not lose his country to hate and accused the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of trying to divide the country on religious lines.
In an attempt to revive the crisis-ridden party, ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, party president Sonia Gandhi had described the march as a "landmark occasion" and hoped that the march would help rejuvenate the grand old party.
Yatra to Cover 12 States in a Span of 5 Months
The yatra will cover 12 states and two union territories in about five months.
The march will move in two batches– one from 7-10:30 am and one from 3:30-6:30 pm. The morning session will include fewer participants, the evening session will see mass mobilisation. The participants plan to walk around 22-23 km daily.
About 30 percent of 'Bharat Yatris' are women. The average age of Bharat Yatris is 38. About 50,000 citizens have also registered to participate in the Yatra.
After reaching Kerala on 11 September, the Yatra will travel through the state for the next 18 days, reaching Karnataka on 30 September. The yatra will be in Karnataka for 21 days before moving north.
It will pass through Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Nilambur, Mysuru, Bellary, Raichur, Vikarabad, Nanded, Jalgaon, Indore, Kota, Dausa, Alwar, Bulandshahr, Delhi, Ambala, Pathankot, Jammu, and end in Srinagar.