Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
It was a bitter cold morning in Mortakka, made colder by the wide, quietly flowing Narmada river that lay nearby. The Padyatra got off a comparatively slow start, with groups of Congress cadre and local leadership huddled against the weather, at various distances form the starting point. Here, we met little Radhika and her brother Raja, just outside their house and shivering in the early morning cold, but determined to wait for “Rahul Gandhi to come by.”
However half an hour into the walk, past the long bridge that spanned the Narmada, the weather opened up and, it seemed, so did the Yatra. From that point on till almost the half way mark 6 or 7 kilometres away, we encountered increased numbers of expectant and excited groups awaiting the Padyatris.
As opposed to previous days in Madhya Pradesh where the Yatra had traveled through sparse rural land spaces, today we walked through a number of small towns and villages in the 13 kilometre stretch from Mortakka to Manihaar. Places such as Badhgaon and Badhwa in particular witnessed higher levels of crowd participation.
While some had come to watch the Yatra, yet others came to offer active encouragement and support. Om Prakash Sharma a retired Block Development Officer and his friend Dr Sunil Romade were there “Because the country needs this Yatra and we came here to encourage all of you.” It was indeed very heartening to meet with these two very enthusiastic supporters.
During the course of the morning the Yatris were accompanied by silicosis victims, and another group comprising of intellectuals Deepak Tiwari and Sanjeev Chandorkar. In the evening we will be joined by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge who will visit the Dr Ambedkar Janmabhoomi Smarak, Mhow.
Currently in the state of Madhya Pradesh, 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: Khargone
2. Khargone district is one of India’s biggest cotton-producing regions.
3. The other major cash crops of the the district soybean and chilli.
4. Khargone city ranked 10th Cleanest city in India in Swachh Survekshan 2020.
5. It is also known for Navgraha Mandir, a temple devoted to the nine planets.