Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
Sometimes, as happened in Ballari on the 15th, the excitement of the #BharatJodoYatra can be measured by the sheer volume of crowds. As other times (as happened yesterday evening) on our 7 kilometre evening walk from Moka to Bennikallu, it was the enthusiasm of the women and children that kept us going.
It was a great pleasure to simply watch young kids such as Satish, Sridhar, Ashok, Gadakibha and Ganesh (we promised to name them all) as they shouted Bharat Jodo slogans and generally had a great time interacting with the Yatris. Also on the route we met Sidamma who was waiting by the roadside with her granddaughter, just to watch the Yatris go by.
There were also individuals who had come a long way to support the Bharat Yatris, such as Basuraj Reddy. “The yatra is something new in politics,” Reddy said, “And it needs to be supported.”
In the afternoon break period yesterday, Congress leaders including Members of Parliament Rahul Gandhi, Digvijay Singh, and DK Shivkumar, President, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee met with small and medium textile industry entrepreneurs and workers in Moka, Ballari.
These entrepreneurs spoke of how Ballari, once a famous centre for textile manufacturing, declined due to rising input prices of electricity and gas, as well as the BJP government policies of GST and demonetisation.
In response Gandhi stated that the region’s textile capability, and indeed heritage, made it potentially a textiles manufacturing powerhouse. However, the BJP government policies supporting a small number of large businesses had damaged that potential.
Gandhi promised that “After the impending state elections, when the Congress comes to power, we should take it as a challenge to make Ballari jeans known all over the world.” On a poignant note he concluded that he understood how much small entrepreneurs and workers “were struggling, how difficult it is, and I’m so very proud of the work you do.”
Today will be a day of rest for the Bharat Yatris.
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. Current District Name – Ballari
2. The district is located at almost the centre of Karnataka
3. Ballari holds 25% of India’s iron ore reserves.
4. Ballari was once a textiles manufacturing hub, but over the years the industry has suffered a decline
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