By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
A grand welcome was afforded to the #BharatJodoYatra yesterday evening as the Yatris entered the great state of Rajasthan. “It seemed that half the state was there” exulted Lalit Farswan, Yatri and he can be forgiven for that statement because the massive crowd presence and the excitement and enthusiasm of the welcoming locals made it an occasion to remember.
But it was this morning that the Yatra truly began in Rajasthan, an approximately 14 kilometer stretch that the Yatris walked from Kalitalai village to their midday break at Baliborda Chauraha.
It was a journey though a rural landscape with fields of oranges and mustard greens, dotted with a number of villages, all whom had turned out right in the early morning to see the Yatra. Everywhere we went, we saw people excitedly waiting for the Yatra and ready to welcome it. At Suvass village we met Hemant Dangi, 7, who lived elsewhere but came to his grandparents home in the area because “I heard Rahul Gandhi was coming.”
“Mahatma Gandhi led the Dandi march,” Khalla Rathore told us as we met her later in Raipur village, “And this Yatra is the second one like it. We are all supporting it.” It was a remarkable statement to make, showing a flawless understanding of history and current context.
For Kalpana, who was waiting today with her friend Nisha in Rawal village, the occasion was a chance to see and perhaps meet Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. “All my friends wanted to come and see the Yatra”, she said, “especially to welcome the Yatris on their first day in Rajasthan.”
Others were in a celebratory mood entirely. Mukesh and his friends had come dressed up in local costumes to perform the famous Rajasthani Gair dance (Bhil in origin) and performed during occasions such as Holi or Janamashtami. “We want to show our appreciation for the Yatris, they’ve have walked from Kanyakumari,” said Mukesh.
During the morning walk the Yatris were joined by Devika and her father Natwarlal. Devika was 9 years old when she was shot in the leg the 26/11 attack. She, her father and brother Jayesh were all key witnesses who against the terrorists. The family lives in Mumbai but are originally from Pali district in Rajasthan.
Currently in the state of Rajasthan, 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)
Midday Travel Facts
1. District name: Jhalawar
2. The district is the birthplace of a famous Bhakti saint, popularly known as Bhagat Pipa.
3. Jhalawar is known by the nicknames of Cherrapunji of Rajasthan because the highest rainfall in the whole of Rajasthan occurs in Manoharthana town in the district.
4. Jhalawar Fort is one of the several historic fortifications in Rajasthan that were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013.
5. Jhalawar is known for the production of oranges and is called “The Orange City.”
6. Jhalawar is the birthplace of the famous Hindi poet and socialist, Nand Chaturvedi.