Those politically affiliated might argue, but Bharat Jodo Yatra has garnered press, grabbed eyeballs and enough footfalls to propel several similar political rallies and mass outreach programmes ahead of the 2024 elections. Given the number of political yatras lined up in the year 2023, it's well on its way to becoming the year of padayatra, which are being planned all across the country.

Starting with the man of yatras, Nitish Kumar. Bihar Chief Minister, perhaps, holds the distinction of holding maximum walkathons for causes wide and varied. While Kumar will start Samaj Sudhar Yatra on January 5 from West Champaran in Bihar, in the past he has held, over a dozen yatras.

He started first yatra in 2005 when he became the chief minister of Bihar for the first time. His first yatra was called Nyay (Justice) Yatra. He also did Vikash Yatra, Dhanyawad Yatra, Prawas Yatra, Vishwas Yatra, Sewa Yatra, Adhikar Yatra, Sankalp Yatra, Sampark Yatra, Nischay Yatra, Vikassh Karyo ki Samiksha Yatra, Jal Jivan Hariyali Yatra, Smaj Sudhar Yatra in 2021 and now Smaj Sudhar Yatra part II.

Nitish kumar
Bihar CM Nitish kumarIANS

Kumar finalised the programme of the Smaj Sudhar Yatra during the winter session of the parliament. The officials of the district were already directed to prepare the ground. During this rally, the Bihar Chief Minister plans on making people aware of the addiction of liquor, benefits of liquor ban, addiction of contrabands, dowry, child marriages and other social evils. The yatra will continue for one month and leaders of his party and ministers will participate in it.

Date of double yatras

January 5, 2023 will be a double political date of sorts for the people of Bihar as, besides the CM, Congress party also kick-starts its Bharat Jodo Yatra in Bihar from January 5. The Bharat Jodo Yatra will start from Banka and end in Gaya district covering Bhagalpur, Khagaria, Begusarai, Darbhanga, Patna and some other districts. It will be led by party national president Mallikarjun Kharge.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi along with party members and supporters during Bharat Jodo Yatra
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi along with party members and supporters during Bharat Jodo Yatra.IANS

TDP's 4000 km padyatra in 400 days

The Telugu Desam Party on Wednesday announced that its general secretary Nara Lokesh will embark on a state-wide padayatra from January 27.

Lokesh, son of TDP president and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, will cover 4000 km from Kuppam to Ichchapuram in 400 days. Titled Yuva Galam, it will be an innovative platform for youth. It's a campaign to mobilise the youth to participate in the agenda-setting process, as well as to raise their voice to express their opinions and demand change.

During the TDP's ongoing Idhem Kharma Mana Rahstraniki campaign, the party claims that a large number of youngsters have been showing up and raising relevant issues in the state.

TDP's Andhra Pradesh unit president K. Acchannaidu said, during the padayatra, that Lokesh will interact with people from various sections of society to know their problems. The march will begin from Kuppam, the Assembly constituency in Chittoor represented by Chandrababau Naidu. The route map is yet to be announced though but the party said it will share soon.

We are suffering: TDP on the need for yatras

"One person commits suicide every four days because of the unemployment. With over 1.5 crore people unemployed, our state has one of the highest unemployment in the country. With skyrocketing fuel prices, we are leading the country's charts in paying the highest prices for petrol and diesel. During the last 3.5 years, every eight hours a woman in the state is victimised due to atrocities against her," the TDP party said in a note released to mark the padayatra's announcement.

The note further added, "Due to backtracked development and lack of investments in the state, the future of youth in the state is at a crossroads. Youth constitute almost 50 per cent of the state's population but a mere 12 % of the MPs from the state are under 40 years of age. We are unquestionably leading, but only in terms of drugs and alcohol abuse, crime rates. This is not what our people deserve."

Congress on Bharat Jodo Yatra

Congress legislature party leader Ajit Sharma alleged that, "The BJP is facing an uneasy situation due to the big success of Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi. This is the reason why they are doing propaganda and wrongful statements to mislead the people. Lakhs of people are supporting Rahul Gandhi in Bharat Jodo Yatra."

Bharat Jodo Yatra
Bharat Jodo Yatra in DelhiHandout

He added, "The BJP wants to stop the Bharat Jodo Yatra in the name of Corona. Rahul Gandhi is not afraid of it. In Bihar, the Bharat Jodo Yatra will start from Banka and it will go to Gaya covering Bhagalpur, Khagaria, Begusarai, Darbhanga, Khagaria, Begusarai, Darbhanga, and Patna. We are hoping that the people from Bihar will give the same support," Sharma said. "We will also appeal to the leaders of Mahagathbandhan including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to participate in the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Bihar," he added.

Jan Akrosh Yatra deferred

Meanwhile, Rajasthan BJP defers Jan Akrosh Yatra amid Covid concerns. The Rajasthan BJP's Jan Akrosh Yatra announced to be an initiative against, "misrule of Congress, Jungle Raj and corruption in the state has been postponed indefinitely in view of a new Covid variant found in China." BJP President Satish Poonia tweeted, "Bharatiya Janata Party Rajasthan's Janakrosh Yatra against the misrule of Congress, Jungle Raj and corruption in Rajasthan was getting immense public support, but in view of the general precautions and instructions of Covid, it has been postponed till the next time in public interest."

Two-day Jan Sankalp Yatra

Karnataka BJP kicks off Jan Sankalp Yatra to counter Congress' Bharat Jodo Yatra. The Jan Sankalp Yatra by the Karnataka BJP is scheduled to begin on Tuesday from Raichur. The yatra will cover three districts in the next two days and will include rallies and office meetings. It is being conducted under the leadership of former CM Yediyurappa, said Bommai. The agenda of the yatra is to tell people what the BJP has done for them, he said, adding that BJP office bearers will participate in the event.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai addressing the inauguration of
Bengaluru : Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj BommaiIANS

The yatra will begin from Raichur city and will cover three districts, namely Koppal, Vijaynagar and Bellary in the next two days. The yatra will also include rallies and office meetings. The party has also planned several rallies, including Minority Morcha in Vijayapura on January 8 ahead of the polls.