15 October 2022

Bharat Jodo Diary (Midday) : 15 October 2022


By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri

Today all roads led to Ballari. The morning commenced with the Bharat Yatris starting their approximately 9 kilometre walk from Halakundhi Mutt under clear skies. Most of the walk took place in Ballari city, and by all accounts it was a memorable experience

“It was fantastic,” says Lalit Farswan, Yatri, “There were huge crowds everywhere.” Indeed there was a festival air to the city, even as the hot weather continued unabated. Indeed events of the day had a dramatic backdrop in the form of Ballari fort, which it is said, can be seen from any part of the city.

Yatri Lalit Farswan spoke of the massive crowds at today’s public meeting in Ballari

Today we met on the road Naga Prakash, who had driven down from Bangalore to engage with Yatra and the Yatris. “It is a matter of pride for Ballari that Sonia Gandhi contested for Parliament (in 1999) from here.”

In the afternoon, after a brief midday rest period, there was a massive crowd – at a public meeting in Ballari headlined by a number of Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Bhupesh Baghel, Mallikarjun Kharge, Digvijay Singh, Jairam Ramesh, Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar, among others. Speaking on the occasion, Gandhi stated that one purpose of the yatra was to raise issues of rising unemployment and government corruption. “If you have money you can buy a job (in Karnataka). If you don’t have money you’ll stay unemployed. That’s why they call this the 40 percent government.”

Gandhi also spoke about the impact of rising prices and the conditions of farmers. “On this Yatra I have met many farmers and it’s obvious that they can’t make money without support,” he said, “And yet the BJP government instead of helping has applied GST to farming, the first time ever.” It was a damning indictment of the BJP’s continued mishandling of the farming sector.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra is presently in the state of Karnataka. Over 21 days in the state, it will cover 511 kilometres.

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. Current District Name – Bellari
2. The district is located at almost the centre of Karnataka
3. Bellary holds 25% of India’s iron ore reserves.
4. Sanganakallu complex of hills is an ancient archaeological site where one of the oldest village settlements was discovered. These settlements date back to the Neolithic Period of the stone age and are considered one of the first village settlements in South India.
5. The city is also known for the eponymous Ballari Fort or Ballari Gudda. The fort is built on the second-largest monolithic hill in the world.