The Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Delhi on Saturday morning amid sparring with the central government over Covid concerns. Leaders of the grand old party and the BJP have been lashing out at each other as many parts of the world – especially China – deal with a spike in coronavirus cases yet again. In India, however, the daily Covid tally remains limited to few hundreds.
Rahul Gandhi led the Congress’s mega foot march from Haryana’s Faridabad to enter the national capital. Jairam Ramesh and Pawan Khera were seen marching early morning on the roads of the city. Yogendra Yadav – known to be a poll strategist and for his recent links with the farmer agitations – also joined the party leaders. The party’s Jagdish Tytler, accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, on Friday said he won’t be participating in the march. “Rahul Gandhi’s mission is more important and that’s why I have decided not to participate in the Bharat Jodo Yatra,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Adressing a presser at the Delhi-Haryana border, Rahul Gandhi hit out at the BJP and its ideological parent – the RSS. “They spread hatred, we spread love and embrace all Indians. There is Hindustan and ‘Mohabbat’ (love) in this Bharat Jodo yatra, which does not see any caste, creed, religion, rich or poor and all embrace each other,” he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. “RSS/BJP’s all policies are to spread fear. They want that everyone should have fear in them and they convert this ‘dar’ into ‘nafrat’ (fear into hatred). If there is no ‘dar’, it will not be converted into ‘nafrat’. We say ‘daro mat’. We spread Mohabbat. We embrace all Indians,” he said. Rahul has made similar remarks on the rival party in the past.
This is the 108th day of the foot march, which began in September, with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls to revive the party’s connect with the masses. The Congress leaders are set to visit the iconic Lal Qila in the evening and they will also pay tributes at the memorials of Mahatma Gandhi and former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul’s father, as per the schedule.
Traffic disruptions are expected and an advisory was issued Friday. Soon after the foot march was kicked off, it headed to one of the busiest intersections of the city – Ashram Chowk. The city is already witnessing choc-o-bloc traffic on key routes due to Christmas and New Year’s revelry. “Commuters are requested to cooperate by avoiding or bypassing the affected roads and make maximum use of public transport to ensure a pleasant journey. There will be graded and dynamic diversion to ensure smooth traffic management and facilitate commuters while ensuring safety of pedestrians on roads,” the traffic police had said in an advisory on Friday.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, a row broke out between the central government and the Congress as Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya wrote a letter over the Yatra. “This yatra will go to Kashmir. Now, they have come out with a new idea. They wrote me a letter that Covid-19 was spreading, stop the yatra,” Gandhi said while addressing a gathering in Ghasera village in Haryana’s Nuh district on Thursday, HT reported earlier. “Now, they are coming up with excuses to stop the yatra. Wear masks, stop the yatra, Covid is spreading, these are all excuses,” he added.
The Congress has been criticised by various BJP leaders, including Union Minister Anurag Thakur, for not halting the march as several states take preventive measures amid concerns over fourth Covid wave.
(With inputs from ANI)