4 January 2023

Bharat Jodo Diary : 04 January 2023


By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri

Once again it was an a day in which the great state of Uttar Pradesh proved that there is a huge wellspring of positive sentiment for the Yatra. They came in their numbers despite the cold and fog.

“At first it was pitch dark; to the extent that it was impossible to see any distance. But we could see people on the roads, chanting slogans and cheering us on,” says Bharat Jodo team member Ajay Thakur.

And then the Yatra really took off – the 14 kilometres morning journey from Mavikala to the morning break at Niwara. As the morning fog lightened – just a little – it revealed sugarcane, and a few wheat and potato fields on either side.

As we speak to people who’ve come to see the Yatra, it’s illuminating and inspiring to understand their motivations. In the early morning we met Joginder Yadav who was there with his infant son to “see Rahul Gandhi.” How long was he waiting? “We’ve been here since 4:15 AM, ji” he said, “it’s been two hours.”

Joginder Yadav who was there with his infant son to “see Rahul Gandhi.”

Yet others came because they were aware that they were witnesses to history. Thus for Anshika, who was accompanied by her family, it was a chance to see a perhaps once in a lifetime event. “I will tell everyone that I watched the Yatra,” she told us.

Meanwhile Anjali, Shubanshu and Sunita were there as a family to protest against rising prices. “The increased cost of living is a burden on all of us,” Shubanshu said.

Accompanying Congress MP Rahul Gandhi today were a wide variety of individuals and groups, showcasing the ‘pull’ of the Yatra across the spectrum and for diverse constituencies. These included a number of social activists, intellectuals and bureaucrats such as Roop Rekha Verma. formerly vice -chancellor of Lucknow University; historian Ashok Pandey, and poet and essayist Ashok Vajpei. Also walking with Yatra was actress Kamya Panjabi.

During the day Gandhi met artisans from across sectors, from regions famous for their crafts, such as Moradabad, Agra, Aligarh and Muzaffarnagar. In a free flowing exchange of ideas the artisans spoke of the key issues affecting their industries, including the deleterious impact of the BJP government’s poorly thought out GST scheme.

In the second half of the day’s journey the Yatris covered approximately 9 kilometres from Saroorpur to their evening break at Baraut. There was a large crowd that gave a rapturous welcome to the Yatris and the corner meeting that followed.

That the Yatra is attracting diverse people from different fields is now an apparent fact. For example, today we met a group of athletes who said they were trying out for the BJP government’s controversial army recruitment program. “We want to meet Rahul Gandhi,” one of them told us, “And apprise him of our problems.”

A group of athletes who said they were trying out for the BJP government’s controversial army recruitment program.

But in the end we leave you with the image of 88 year old Sitaram who was sitting in his chair by the side of the road, raising his hands almost as if in benediction, and chanting “Bharat Jodo” as the Yatra went by. Why was he there? “In my lifetime we have built this country,” he said, “and this Yatra is taking this work forward.”

88 year old Sitaram – “In my lifetime we have built this country,and this Yatra is taking this work forward.”

Currently in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharat Jodo Yatra is a five month, 3500 kilometre long Padyatra from Kanyakumari in india the South of India to Kashmir up in the North. It is part of the party’s national mass outreach program aimed at highlighting social polarisation, economic inequalities and political centralisation.

Ground research: Aparna Ashwarya (INC Communications Department research team)

Travel Facts:

1. District name: Baghpat
2. Baghpat is known as the Land of Sugarcane for its prominence in producing the crop.
3. Baghpat district is the birthplace of Rajendra Singh, a distinguished water conservationist, popularly known as the “Waterman of India”.
4. Baghpat town is said to be founded by the Pandava brothers and was originally known as Vyagprastha, the land of Tigers.

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