9 January 2023

Bharat Jodo Diary : 09 January 2023


By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri

Now that we’re in the fourth and last month of the #BharatJodoYatra, the Yatris have learned first hand about India’s incredible diversity. So, as they walked – as has become usual – on a cold and foggy winter morning, few were taken by surprise by an example of traditional Scottish culture that revealed itself in the early morning mist in the Haryana countryside – the sound of bagpipes.

Even in these conditions a number of people turned out to greet the Yatris. Little Ayush and his even younger sister Gitanshi awaited with their mother Anu to “see Rahul Gandhi.” Some distance away we came across Raaghav who was there with his parents – labourers from Bihar and who were working in a nearby bhatti (brick factory); to watch the Yatra.

Little Ayush and his even younger sister Gitanshi awaited with their mother Anu to “see Rahul Gandhi.”

Raaghav was there with his parents, labourers from Bihar and who were working in a nearby bhatti (brick factory); to watch the Yatra

We have been been thinking of writing about Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s daily gruelling schedule, and this day was a typical example, with a number of individuals and groups joining the Yatris to meet with and walk alongside.

Before we start, one would do well to remember that all of what we describe is in addition to Gandhi’s actual daily 20-30 kilometer walk.

In the morning session (6:00 am – 10:00 am) the Yatris walked 14 kilometres in a straight line from Khanpur Kolian to the midday break at Cross of Shahbad, Ladwa Road.

This was also declared a Women’s day, as had been done a few times in the #BharatJodoYatra previously. That meant that it was (with a few exceptions) an almost 100 percent component of women who walked in the D Ring (the roped off security area in which Gandhi walks).

Women’s Day at the #BharatJodoYatra

In the morning session Gandhi walked alongside with a group that included Mahila Kisan representatives and families of Shaheed Kisaans. Then as the morning session ended, and the Yatris rested, Gandhi went on to have an interaction with the farmers from various organisations. The main demand of this groups was a legal guarantee for the MSP (Minimum Support Price) and the implementation of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act.

Rakesh Tikait, the farmer leader at the forefront of the protest against the Farn Laws of the BJP in 2020-21; joined the Yatra today

The evening session began at 3.30pm, and the Yatris started their journey at Saha Crossing and walked 11 kilometres to their evening break at Mohra Maulana, Ambala.

During the evening session Gandhi was accompanied part of the way by Rakesh Tikait the farmer leader who had been at the forefront of the protest against ‘black farm laws’ of the BJP government in 2020 and 2021. Also walking alongside were Rampal Jat of the Kisan Mahapanchayat, Fasal Khan, human rights activist from the Khudai Khidmatgar, and a group of children and mothers against school closures. All of this was before the tea break.

Then, during the evening tea break Gandhi met with representatives of electronics industry in Ambala.

Post the tea break he walked with a group of social activists from ANHAD, a socio-cultural organization that is engaged in working in promoting secularism and communal harmony. Shabnam Hashmi, sister of slain activist Safdar Hashmi was part of this group.

Then having concluded the walk, Gandhi headlined an end of day public meeting during which he spoke to a large crowd on a range of issues. In a memorable passage, he compared conditions today to those non the classic epic Mahabharata. “This is the land of the Mahabharata,” he said, “The battle of those times is the battle we fight today. Who were the Pandavas? Does the Mahabharata say that the Pandavas discriminated against the disadvantaged? Did the Pandavas implement wrong policies such as GST and demonetisation?”

It was pretty obvious who the implicit villains of the Mahabharata – the Kauravas – are in this modern battle between the forces of love and unity, and the forces of hate and discrimination.

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: Kurukshetra, Ambala
2. 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.
3. Kurukshetra is also know for a number of historical monuments including Sheikh Chili’s tomb.
4. After the partition of the country, there was mass migration and during this time the largest refugee camp was established at Kurukshetra.
5. Ambala District is known for its large Indian Army and Indian Air Force Cantonemnts. Established in 1843, Ambala Cantonment is one of the most important and strategic cantonments of India, and Ambala Air Force Station is one of the oldest and largest airforce bases in India.
6. Ambala is famous for producing scientific and surgical instruments, as well as its cloth market.

Tweet of the day