The Congress' Bharat Jodo Yatra has completed 1000 kilometres of its scheduled 3570 kms from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. It has criss-crossed three states and is about to enter the fourth state of Andhra Pradesh.
The yatra is drawing huge crowds and even party leaders are coming together to put up a great and united show -- the issues of communal politics, hatred, inflation, unemployment are resonating with the people.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has till now anchored the Congress show with Sonia Gandhi joining briefly in Karnataka. The Congress is maintaining that it is a huge success as the Karnataka BJP was also forced to take out a Yatra to counter the Congress foot march in the state and also in Gujarat which is a BJP citadel.
Rahul Gandhi is talking to people of all walks of life and focusing on inflation, countering hatred and unemployment. Several leaders from other states such as Madhya Pradesh's Kamal Nath, Bihar's Kanhaiya Kumar, Uttarakhand's Manish Khanduri are seen joining the Yatra at different stages encouraging the yatris, who are bracing blisters, heat and rains during the Yatra.
"Some days ago, I was talking to the youngsters of Karnataka. One thousand unemployed youngsters came to me and they asked me, why can't they get a job in Karnataka? They asked me why they have to deal with the government that steals 40 percent of Karnataka's wealth and they asked me an equally important question, why can the youngsters of Karnataka not compete in Kannada," he said.
Hindi vs Kannada language
He is also targeting the RSS/BJP on the language issue and said nobody should be allowed to stop you from speaking your language, but these are some of the ideas that the RSS and the BJP are promoting.
"For them, Kannada is a secondary language. Kannada is of primary importance for the Karnataka people and if the BJP and RSS think they can attack the Kannada language, they can attack the people of Karnataka, they can attack the history of Karnataka, they are going to face the full force of the Congress party."
While highlighting 'Bharat Jodo' he said it means respecting the culture, the language, the history of the people of Karnataka. If the people of Karnataka want to speak Kannada, and the people of Tamil Nadu want to speak Tamil and the people of Kerala want to speak Malayalam, they should be allowed to do that.
The BJP, instead of dividing India, should explain to India why we have the highest level of unemployment in 45 years, he said. Rahul Gandhi is also meeting fishermen, farmers, and when peanut farmers stopped through he said he saw tonnes and tonnes of tomatoes rotting on the side of the roads.
"Why they did demonetisation, why they have a flawed GST and how they abandoned our workers, our small and medium businesses and our farmers during Covid. They should also explain why we have the highest prices we ever had? Why are gas cylinders that used to cost Rs. 400 now costing Rs. 1,000? Why petrol and diesel have become so expensive? These are the issues that the Bharat Jodo Yatra is raising."
"We will not allow the BJP and the RSS to divide India and to spread hatred in this country. Dividing this country is an attack against the interests of this country. It weakens this country, it does not strengthen this country." he added while addressing the crowd.
Not only the Congress, an RSS leader said rising inflation and unemployment are a matter of concern. The impact of the Bharat Jodo Yatra being led by Rahul Gandhi is such that "even RSS is now talking about these issues".
"Look at the impact of Bharat Jodo Yatra... those who were involved in dividing the nation are talking of inflation and unemployment," Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said.
It is uniting the party leaders as well. The yatra is yielding the desired results for the party in Karnataka, which goes to the polls next year, where the BJP's bete noirs former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar are sharing the stage and walking side by side in the yatra.
Congress General Secretary in-charge of the state Randeep Singh Surjewala shared pictures of both the leaders sitting together and wrote, "The bonhomie & camaraderie".
Both the leaders do not share a good relationship as both are claimants for the top post in the state. Siddaramaiah was seen running with Rahul Gandhi a few days ago and Shivakumar has been walking by Gandhi's side since the yatra entered Karnataka.
The Congress wants to connect with the voters and after completing its Kerala leg, the Bharat Jodo Yatra has traversed Gundlupet town in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka. Rallies have been held in Gundlupet, Mandya, Mysuru, Chitradurga and the last will be held in Ballari on October 15.
The yatra will enter neighbouring Andhra Pradesh through the state's Raichur district. The party faces major challenges there as it has very less presence in the state and the response will reflect the Congress impact in Andhra where it is weak.
(With inputs from IANS)