8 January 2023

Bharat Jodo Diary : 08 January 2023


By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri

Trending on twitter in the morning: #coldwave

The Yatris would agree. Certainly, the early morning fog was perhaps the most that they have seen till now. And therefore the usual 6AM start of the Yatra meant that the Yatris walked in conditions that weren’t exactly zero visibility – but close enough.

The early morning fog was perhaps the most that Yatris have seen till now

That in turn implied that whether there were ten people or a million lined by the roadside, we wouldn’t be able to tell you. But the Yatris and the cadres alongside made up with their enthusiasm to light the way.

The Yatris and the cadres alongside made up with their enthusiasm to light the way.

The Yatris started their day with their usual mix of humour, and a slight urgency to get on with it. As usual the Seva Dal’s Jhanda tukri led the way, accompanied by Congress MPs Digvijay Singh and Jairam Ramesh. It was pitch dark when we started and remained that way for more than an hour. It lightened up after that but still the Yatris saw little but figures, banners and posters looking in the mist.

However the cold and the fog seemed to melt away as this group sang the old favourites – “Hum sipahi Gandhi dal ke” and that classic “Jai Jagat”.

In the morning session a number of people walked alongside alongside Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, including Safai Karamcharis and MGNREGA workers. The MNREGA group included representatives from the All India MNREGA Sahyog Manch Haryana; Rashtriya Mazdoor Kisan Manch and NREGA Mazdoor Union Jind.

And as always the Yatris arrived in quick order in their walk from Dodwa-Taraori Crossing to the midday break at Samana Bahu around 12 kilometres away.

Perhaps the Yatris walking in the cold were reminded that by the end of their midday halt they were close to Kurukshetra district, also known as Dharmashetra or the “Realm of duty”, the site of the Mahabharata war, and of course also as the “Land of the Bhagvad Gita”.

The afternoon session was notable for Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s 10th press conference in the #BharatJodoYatra. It is also 10 more than the full round zero number of press conferences Prime Minister Modi has held in that time.

While a number of questions were asked in this interaction, a few comments by Gandhi stand out. He started by saying how since the start of the Yatra in Kanyakumari the response has gotten better and better in every state.

Responding to another question he said that “Small and medium industries have been destroyed by GST and demonetisation, whereas they should have been protected.”

In response to a question about what the Congress intended as a follow up after the Yatra, Gandhi referred to a famous incident in the epic Mahabharata that “Arjun never said what he would do after hitting the eye of the bird that was his target. One intends to focus on the work, the result will take care of itself.”

The afternoon session was remarkable for the participation of a number of senior ex-officers of the army. They were led by ex-COAS Gen. Deepak Kapoor, and included Lt Gen RK Hooda, Lt Gen VK Narula and a number of other senior personnel. Later a group of paramilitary personnel as well as members of the LIC Workers’ Union. also accompanied the Yatris.

The Yatris arrived at their end of day camp after an approximately 8 kilometre walk from Jirbari to the Old Bus stand Kurukshetra. Post the completion Gandhi went to the nearby Brahma Sarovar (an ancient water pool sacred to Hinduism) to perform Aarti.

As an interesting side note we quote Jairam Ramesh: “Close to the campsite of the #BharatJodoYatra tonight in Kurukshetra is the wonderful Harsh Ka Tila in Thanesar, which has a history dating back to the Kushan period. Harshvardhana’s father ruled from here, while he himself was mostly in Kannauj.”

The Yatra walks in the footsteps of history.

Currently in Haryana, the Bharat Jodo Yatra is a five month, 3500 kilometre long Padyatra from Kanyakumari in 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: Karnal, Kurukshetra
2. The district is popularly known as the “Rice Bowl of the Country.”
3. Karnal is associated with Kalpana Chawla, astronaut of Indian Origin.
4. The district is home to the Sita Mai temple, perhaps the only temple of Goddess Sita in India.
5. The district is mentioned in the great epic of Mahabharata and is said to be founded by Raja Karna.
6. Kurukshetra is an important Hindu pilgrimage destination, and there are several pilgrimage sites including Brahma Sarovar, and Jyotisar where the Bhagavad Gita was delivered to Arjuna.
7. Kurukshetra is also know for a number of historical monuments including Sheikh Chili’s tomb.
8. After the partition of the country, there was mass migration and during this time the largest refugee camp was established at Kurukshetra.

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