18 January 2023

Bharat Jodo Diary : 18 January 2023


By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri

Sometimes a simple itinerary tells a better story than any number of words. So we will mention one from the #BharatJodoYatra in brief:

Day 123: 17th January 2023
-Night Halt Hoshiarpur Punjab

Day 124: 18th January 2023
-Padyatra Resumes from Flag Handover ceremony at Himachal Pradesh border
-Morning break near Kshatriya college Nadoun Kathgarh road, Indora
-Evening break and corner meeting at Malot, Indora, Kangra
-Night Halt at Shah colony, Pathankot Punjab

In short, in the space of a day the #BharatJodoYatra entered and exited the state of Himachal Pradesh. It goes without saying that everyone including the Yatris would have liked to have stayed longer. But the necessities of the route and the overall Yatra timeline made it a short stay.

But the Himachal Pradesh Congress party made it a truly memorable experience. After a short but impressive flag handover ceremony, the Yatris got underway. Part of the morning and the entire evening walk was mostly through rural roads, lined with green fields and mango orchards, with the occasional clump of orange trees thrown in. “It was a really pretty landscape” says Yatri Rekha Sawant, “and the perfect route for a day’s walk.” In the morning the mist settled across the landscape dissipated with the dawn, prompting Yatri Vaishnavi Bharadwaj to comment that she had “seen the rising sun for the first time in days!”

In the morning session the Yatris walked approximately 12 kilometres after the Punjab border handover, arriving at the midday break in Indora. In attendance were chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and HPCC President and MP Pratibha Singh along with a host of senior congress leaders and cadre.

Along the way we came across a number of individuals who were waiting to catch a glimpse of the Yatra. These included Rekha Jyoti and little Divansh Thakur who were standing by their house to see the Yatris going by. Others such as Shaku, Shanti, Bhuri and Ayush were waiting for “Rahul ji to come this way.” And of course, as an aside we began to see some examples of local architecture to tell us we were in a hill state – for instance sloped tin roofs and bay windows.

At a press conference in the morning Congress MP Jairam Ramesh stated that the “Bharat Jodo Yatra is not a Mann Ki Baat Yatra, but a Yatra where Rahul Gandhi meets people from across all sections of society, understands and discusses their problems but he does not come with the attitude that he has a solution to everything. We will move forward by working together”.

In the evening session the Yatris walked around 10 kilometres to arrive at Malot, which was also the scene of a corner meeting. Speaking on the occasion Gandhi told the audience that “Himachal is a hill state but it is easy to walk here. And the reason is that there is peace here and the people speak with a lot of love and respect. You have strength but are also peaceful.”

Tomorrow will be the last day of the #BharatJodoYatra in Punjab. Senior Congress leaders including Gandhi will address a rally at Pathankot tomorrow at 11:30 AM onwards, which means that the Yatris do not have a morning walking session.

Continuing with our theme of showcasing people who have helped to make this diary – today is the turn of Nayoneka Shankar from media firm Teen Bandar and Tarini Dhody, aide to the General Secretary Communications, Congress.

Shankar and Dhody have been invaluable in (to use an American term) quarterbacking this diary; ensuring editorial standards, and managing the entire process from the point the diary is written to the time it goes online.

What was the best part of the Yatra for Shankar? “A lot of people have a lot of things to say about the Yatra” she says, “But there’s consensus on one thing – the narrative is changing. For the better? Time will tell.” She adds, “Someone said to me, ‘You should pat yourself on the back for being a part of something so historic for your generation.’ Believe me, I am!”

For Dhody it’s “Just being on the ground and feeling the energy of the Yatra. Given that 90% of my work is making/checking content on a computer screen, it’s a very liberating experience to be amongst the Yatris and to walk with them.”

Currently in Punjab, 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. Districts name: Kangra
2. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Kangra became a prominent center of Rajput miniature painting.
3. Kangra is known for tea cultivation.
4. Kangra district is home to one of the oldest surviving royal dynasties of the world, Katoch.
5. The district is home to the Masroor rock-cut temple, known as the Himalayan Pyramids; and is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.
6. Kangra is mentioned in several Sanskritic and Vedic literature as well as in Puranas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata.

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