Bharat Jodo Yatra enters JK
Lakhanpur (J&K): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi walked into Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, the final phase of his Bharat Jodo Yatra that started in Kanyakumari in September and will end on January 30 in Srinagar.
As dusk fell and temperatures dipped, hundreds of people walked alongside the former Congress president. In a customary handover function, Punjab’s Congress unit gave the party flag to a leader from the Jammu and Kashmir unit.
Welcoming him into the union territory, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah drew a parallel between the Shankaracharya and Rahul Gandhi. “Many years ago, Shankaracharya had undertaken a yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. And today you are doing it,” the MP said at a rally here.
He said that today’s India is not that of Ram’s Bharat or Gandhi’s Hindustan because people are divided on religion. “If we are together, we will be able to overcome the hatred of the present day,” he said.
The yatra is scheduled to culminate at Srinagar with Gandhi hoisting the national flag at the party headquarters on January 30.
A National Conference leader said party leaders and workers left in several vehicles to join the yatra.
The 85-year-old Abdullah, a former chief minister, accompanied by senior leaders including several former ministers and legislators, left in a bus from his Bhatindi residence in Jammu for Kathua around 1.30 pm, he said.
The bus reached Kathua, about 90 kms from Jammu, around 4 pm and Abdullah straight way visited the residence of former minister Lal Singh.
“I am happy about his (Lal Singh’s) decision to join the yatra as unity in diversity is our power… We have to leave hatred behind and take the country forward together,” Abdullah told reporters, downplaying the statement of his son and former chief minister Omar Abdullah.
He said the yatra is for the benefit of the country and “had I been young, I would have walked along with Rahul Gandhi from the start of the yatra. I am old and cannot walk nonstop”
He said he believes that the ray of hope seen by Mahatma Gandhi is still alive in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I have joined the yatra in Delhi, joining it here (Lakhanpur) and will be joining it again and again when it reaches Jammu and in the valley,” he said, adding the people of Jammu and Kashmir are distraught due to the misgovernance of the BJP.
“They (BJP) are saying the situation has become normal but the reality is that terror incidents have gone up. The Home Ministry is responsible for the security situation,” he said.
Asked about the Election Commission not announcing the assembly polls in J&K, he said the delay in elections tentamounts to attack on democracy which they want to finish.
“It is unfortunate. The Election Commission should have been an independent body but they are under government pressure. They are also trying to suppress the Supreme Court,” he said, without naming the BJP-led central government.