By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
If the hundredth day of the Yatra saw massive crowd participation, Day 102 wasn’t far behind. “I’ve never seen a Yatra this big pass this way,” said a local to Bharat Jodo team member Rahul Ranjan and he wasn’t exaggerating. All along the morning session, from Kalakho to the midday break near the Police Station Sikandra, the #BharatJodoYatra was accompanied by huge numbers, the entire journey made colourful by the folk artists, musicians and groups of gaily dressed women and children along the way.
In the morning session the Yatris were accompanied by a number of individuals from diverse sections of society. These included Shishupal Singh Bhadu, Professor at Jainarayan Vyas University, a group of farmers from Dausa, and a groups of Hindi writers and critics. We met with the latter as they were about to go up to meet Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. How were they feeling? “Excited” was the reply – it was hard to make out much else, such was the volume of noise.
We also spotted waiting along the way Sharmila and her friends who told us that they had been there “for a long time to see Rahul Gandhi.” What did they think of the crowds and the music… in general the environment? “It’s amazing” Sharmila told us, “It makes us feel that we are witness to something big happening (bahut badi cheez dekhne ko mili).”
This was echoed in a different way by Jairam who had come because he was affected by rising unemployment. “I am not sure what the Congress or the Yatra can do” he told us candidly, “But I thought I would see for myself.” We assured him that raising concerns about unemployment and economic divisiveness had been one of the main goals of the #BharatJodoYatra.
At a press conference, Congress MP and party general secretary Jairam Ramesh launched, in his own distinct style, a scathing attack on Prime Minister Modi. Linking the BJP government’s failure to control Chinese aggression border to Bharat Jodo, Ramesh used the slogan Cheen Par Chuppi Todo, Bharat Jodo – to ask pointed questions. “What is the PM hiding from the people of India? Why is he running away from a discussion?” he asked.
In a biting statement that deserves to be fully quoted he also said of Modi, “You said that Xi ne “adhyayan karake rakha tha akhir Modi cheez kya hai. Is China’s renewed aggressiveness the result of such a close study?”
The press conference was also used as an occasion to launch a short film against hatred, marking tne fourth in the series “Kyon Na Judein” (Why Not Join Us). Later in the afternoon Gandhi had a meeting with civil society representatives from Rajasthan, on pre-manifesto consultations with regard to the upcoming state elections.
The evening walk, around 9 kilometres from the starting point of the nearby toll gate to the Mukurpura Chowraha at Bandikui witnessed the same massive crowds as in the morning. Among those we came across were Ajay, 14, who wanted only to see the Yatris because he’s read about the Yatra online and was excited that it was passing through his area. In the evening the Yatris were joined by a group of journalists from Rajasthan and also a separate group of intellectuals.
Currently in the state of Rajasthan, the Bharat Jodo Yatra is a five month, 3500 kilometre long Padyatra from Kanyakumari in india 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)
1. District name: Dausa
2. Dausa district is the birthplace of a noted saint, poet and social reformer of medieval India, Sunderdas.
3. Dausa is home to Chand Baori, one of the oldest, deepest and largest baoris (stepwells) in Rajasthan.
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