Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
Mishri Lal was waiting in the searing heat just outside his farm. “I was going to the fields,” he says, “but then stopped my tractor. I’ll probably never get a chance to see them again.” So he was content to patiently wait, a lone figure when we caught up with him.
‘Them,’ we learned after a few more questions, were the Padyatris, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra – all in equal measure.
From Mishri Lal’s, and innumerable other conversations, we are observing that #BharatJodoYatra has become a common topic of conversation at the grassroots level. We now often hear people discussing it in public places, talking about the Yatra’s itinerary, or Rahul Gandhi.
Meanwhile the Yatris commenced their journey at the somewhat earlier than usual time of 3:30pm. The hot summer sun showed no let up and, as stated Yatri Yogesh Meena, “It was admittedly hard going for a while.” However as always the Yatris persevered, walking the approximately 10 kilometres from Gurdawara Sahib to the evening Break at Chegaon Makhan in quick time.
Despite the heat there were crowds waiting to welcome the Yatris all along the way. At Badiya Gyasur crowds we saw a large number of people converging with banners, playing drums and chanting slogans an hour before the Yatra was to pass through.
Earlier in the afternoon there was a tribute to Tantya Bheel, 19th century figure who resisted the British rule and became a symbol for the tribal peoples. This was followed by an Adivasi Sabha at Badoda Aheer, that was attended by Rahul Gandhi, and former chief ministers Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh.
Speaking on the occasion Rahul Gandhi stated that the BJP/RSS pupil arisen term ‘Vanvasi’ was inappropriate. “It means” he stated, “that you’re not the first owners, you only live here. Second it means that outside the forest you have no rights. And third since the forests are being cut down by the BJP governments, you may soon have no place in India.”
In a powerful and eloquent statement he stated that “We call you adivasis, because we believe you are the first owners of India. They call you vanvasi because they want to take away your rights.”
Currently in the state of Madhya Pradesh, 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)
End of Day Travel Facts:
1. District name: Khandwa
2. Pandit Makhanlal Chaturvedi power and writer, winner of the first Sabitya Akademi Award in Hindi was born in Khandwa district.
3. The district of Khandwa is facing an employment crisis, with lakhs migrating every year looking for jobs.
4. Legendary actors and artists brothers Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar and Anoop Kumar were born in Khandwa.
Tweet of the day: