Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
It was once again a rural landscape that the Yatris journeyed through for the most part this evening, through long highway stretches and occasional small village settlements dotted with cowsheds, tractors and carts. The road at times was more of a dusty, pebbled suggestion than blacktop.
However, the locals that we encountered in the approximately 10 kilometres walk from Jalamb to Bhastan in Buldhana district remained rock solid in their support and active encouragement. We met waiting by the roadside Shivtej Khowle with his family and friends. “We’ve come to join Yatra today.” When asked why he came from his village 10 kilometres away, he replied, “The Yatris have walked for hundreds of kilometres, surely we can walk a few.”
Matargaon village almost halfway through the evening walk was the scene of multiple celebrations, from one end to another. There were teams of Lezim performing teenagers, artists with percussion instrument, and even Mallakhamba performers!
The core ideals behind the #BharatJodoYatra continue to strike a chord. At Matargaon also we met with a group of lawyers who were out on force waiting for the Yatra. Nitin Jadhav, advocate, told us that “they were there for a number of reasons including to highlight the question mark that hangs over the independence of the judiciary.”
Along the way we met Congresswoman Jyoti Pardikar, who was walking barefoot and alone, slowly and painfully but with the same grit and determination that she started with when the Yatra entered Maharashtra. She needed no cheering crowds, no sloganeering for encouragement. Just step after step. It is people like her who are the real steel frame of the Congress.
Individuals dressed up as iconic figures, have remained a theme in Maharashtra. Today we came across students of the Mahalakshmi Krishi Vidyalaya who were portraying some core ideas of the Bharat Jodo Yatra along with an incredible combination of costumes, rangoli and flower arrangements. The picture speaks for itself.
Continuing the women focused theme of the morning, the Yatris were joined by eminent women activists, representatives from the sex workers association, and trans+queer activists. Later companions were social activist group Lokayat’s women members and Marathi film industry actresses.
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. Buldhana district is the site of the Shri Gajanan Maharaj Temple, which is a major religious and tourist attraction (Anand Sagar – developed by the Temple trust reportedly at a cost of Rs 300 crore).
2. Lonar Crater Lake, located in Buldhana, is the second largest impact crater in basaltic rock in the world.
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