11 November 2022

Bharat Jodo Diary (End of Day)


Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri

In memory of P. Ganeshan, Yatri

Who is a Yatri? What is their identity? Are they solely from a group of the 120 ‘official’ Bharat Yatris who are walking from Kanyakumari to Kashmir? Can it be someone who walks the #BharatJodoYatra only for a few minutes, but with complete devotion? Can you be a Yatri if you’re wholeheartedly supporting the Yatra online?

Our companion P. Ganeshan from Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu was hit by a speeding truck while walking yesterday evening, and lost his life in the early hours this morning. On paper he wasn’t a Bharat Yatri but we can say for certain that we have lost someone who was one of best among us, the quintessential Yatri.

‘Yatra Ganesh’ as he came to be called had covered more than 13,000 kilometres on the road. This is possibly more than anyone else in the #BharatJodoYatra. Yatri Avani Bansals recalls a very recent conversation with him. “I couldn’t believe that he’d walked so much.” So Ganesh promptly showed everyone his multiple Yatra certificates over the decades and promptly shut everyone up!

Yatra Ganesh as he came to be called, covered more than 13,000 kilometres on road.

Turns out that Ganeshan was the quintessential Yatri, having started his Padyatra a from 1991. He was also a dyed-in-the-blood congressman, who wanted no personal fame or glory. “I only want one thing” he’d told the Yatris, who guessed that he wanted to meet Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. Mostly everyone does so it’s easy to be blasé about it. But they guessed wrong- he just wanted a certificate proving that he was part of the Bharat Jodo Yatra!

Ganeshan was the quintessential Yatri

Yatri Kushwanth Rajshekariah who spent time in conversation with Ganeshan says that “He spent most of his time in Congress party office and in Yatras.” Such selfless dedication is the reason that the Congress party perseveres on the face of all reversals.

Ganeshan walked with us right from the start, from Kanyakumari. He matched us step for step, even as in the early days; as opposed to the Bharat Yatris, there was no certainty about his food or lodging.

Yatri Sheeba Ramachandran says that Ganeshan also kept a diary of his experiences. “He would often come to me to ask the names of places in Kerala, which he would then note down.” And he was selfless. “On the event of Onam I offered to buy him new clothes,” but he refused. “He was a committed, selfless supporter of the party,” she says, “A true congressman, who did not have many material possessions, but was truly wealthy in spirit and attitude.”

“A true Congressman, who did not have many material possessions, but was truly wealthy in spirit and attitude,” said Yatri Sheeba Ramachandran about ‘Yatra Ganesh’

Yatri Ganeshan, farewell. You may have gone but your memory will accompany us all right till the end. You define all that’s best about the #BharatJodoYatra.

Yatri Ganeshan, you may have gone but your memory will accompany us.

In the evening, the Yatra resumed from Choramba Phata in Nanded district, to arrive at its halt for the day in Waranga Phata, in Hingoli district.

Currently in the state of Maharastra, 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 names: Nanded, Hingoli
2. Nanded district has been a major place for Sikh pilgrimage. The tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh made Nanded his permanent abode and passed the Guruship to Guru Granth Sahib before his death in 1708 in Nanded.
3. Nanded district is also known for various Sufi Shrines, Kandhar Fort, and the beautiful waterfall of Sahastrakund.
4. Nanded is the birthplace of three renowned Maratha Poets- Vishnupant Shesa, Ragunath Shesa and Vaman Pandit.
5. The 700-year-old treatise Leela Charita, written by Mhaimbhatta mentions the district of Nanded and its irrigation practices.
6. Hingoli district is the birthplace of famous Marathi writer, F.M Shinde.
7. Hingoli is well known for its educational institutions.
8. Aundha Naganath, one of the 12 jyotirlingas is located in Hingoli district making it an important pilgrimage destinations for Hindus.

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