Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
“We’ve been here since 4 AM” said Kiran Srinivas. “It doesn’t matter, there’s a lifetime left to sleep (zindagi padi hai) but this moment will not come again (yeh samay nahin aayega).
It was 6 AM in the morning when we spoke to Srinivas, sitting with her family. The streets of Mhow were quiet in the winter morning; the silence broken only by hushed conversations and the sound of the occasional police sirens warning stationary vehicles to get aside, or get moving.
Then a few kilometres on the #BharatJodoYatra entered the precincts of Indore (and also Rau, the assembly seat of MPCC working president Jitu Patwari) and it seemed that someone had opened the gates to a massive street party. There were crowds lining the entire length of the road for kilometres. And there were even more crowds clumped together at various points along the route, the focal points for street performers, dancers and artists. And almost every time the Yatris passed one of these, they were showered with bright yellow marigold flowers.
An absolute travelling wall of sound – from the half a dozen or so music trucks blaring Bharat Jodo Yatra music – seemed to down out the sound of the continuously bursting firecrackers. It was a series of unforgettable scenes unfolding one after another. Not to forget the red carpet that seemed to extend for kilometres.
Here we met Sumiksha 11, Protima 7 and Dev 7, having the absolute time of their lives, dancing for all they were worth. “Rahul Gandhi” shrieked (no other word for it) Samiksha when we asked her why she was there.
Whether it was the main Congress, or the frontals, everyone seems to have contributed to what was one of the memorable days in the Yatra so far. Massive crowds, a great atmosphere and a sense of purpose – what more could we want?
Then we had the spectacle of a German Shepherd, a motorcycle and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. Marvel, the German Shepherd joined us on the Yatra with owner Rajat Parashar who is advocating the worthy cause of animal rights.
However the end of the morning session also turned out to a poignant moment. We met Durgabai and Chandabai, both widows, who had come hoping for assistance that has been denied to them under the present regime. “We’re still living in a rented house”, said Durgabai, “And there’s no one to help us.” It was a damming condemnation of the BJP government.
In the afternoon Congress MP Rahul Gandhi will have an interaction with members of the Youth Convention on Unemployment, followed by a brief photo-op with a delegation from Valmiki Samaj.
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: Indore
2. Indore historically has been a junction for pilgrimage (Omkareshwar to Mahakaleshwar) and military movement (Agra to Deccan); consequentially it has developed as a commercial and military town.
3. Mhow town in Indore district is the birthplace of statesman and social reformer Dr B.R Ambedkar.
4. Mhow is also the centre for key training schools of the Indian army including the Army War College and the Infantry Training School,
5. Indore district is the business and trading capital of the state, famous for cotton textile, steel and chemical production. Namkeen production is also a major economic activity.