Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that the NDA government is enabling division and hatred as he kicked off the 3,700km-long foot march to revive the party’s objectives despite internal turmoil
o Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that the NDA government is enabling division and hatred as he kicked off the 3,700km-long foot march to revive the party’s objectives despite internal turmoil
o Gandhi spoke in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, from where the yatra is to move through 12 states and two Union territories over 150 days before ending in Kashmir.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that the National Democratic Alliance government is enabling the colonial divide-and-rule policy and that institutions, values and the national flag are under attack, as he kicked off the 3,700km-long foot march to revive the party’s objectives despite internal turmoil.
Gandhi spoke in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, from where the yatra is to move through 12 states and two Union territories over 150 days before ending in Kashmir. “The RSS-BJP led government is following the old principle of divide and rule. Earlier the East India Company used this and now a handful of businessmen are,” he said, adding that the unemployment, price rise and inflation generated by them has ruined the economy.
“India is facing its worst economic crisis ever. Highest level of unemployment that we have seen, and the country is heading into disaster,” he added. Most of the 118 padyatris are young members of the party. The list does not include any leaders from the group of 23 leaders, known as G-23, who wrote to Sonia Gandhi demanding for reforms. While some, such as Anand Sharma and Manish Tewari, were absent at the inaugural function, Sharma tweeted to lend his solidarity, saying that he will join the yatra in the Himachal Pradesh leg.
Congress leaders said that the party’s central leadership selected the 118 yatris, and that their arrangements will be taken care of by the All-India Congress Committee. Many local leaders are expected to join the yatra.
The yatra is the party’s latest attempt at reviving its local connections. The party has been stung by a series of high-profile exits in recent months and is staring at a tough campaign in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, before a raft of states next year and the 2024 general election.
In his speech, Gandhi said that the government was attacking central agencies to intimidate the Opposition. “We won’t get scared. The BJP is sorely mistaken,” he said. “We must not only salute the flag but defend the ideas that the flag embodies as well. The unity of the country is being affected on the lines of religion, language and other problems,” he said.
Gandhi, 52, also attended a prayer meeting at Sriperumbudur where his father, Rajiv Gandhi, was assassinated in 1991. “I lost my father to hate and political division. I will not lose my country to it as well,” he said. At the rally, he said that the government has systematically attacked farmers, the youth, workers and small traders saying that the yatra was designed to listen to the common people and their views.
Party president Sonia Gandhi’s message was read out at the rally venue. “I am certain this yatra will herald much-needed change and it will be a transformational movement in Indian politics,” she said in a statement.
Meanwhile BJP leaders took a dig at the efforts. Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has termed it as “comedy of the century” saying that the “Bharat we live in today is resilient, robust and united and that the only time India was divided was in 1947 when Congress sanctioned it. Rahul Gandhi should go to Pakistan for Bharat Jodo Yatra if they want unification,” he tweeted.