Bharat Jodo Yatra
The aim of this Yatra is to unite India; to come together and strengthen our nation. The yatra has already received an overwhelming response; lakhs of people accompanied by Congress leaders have joined the movement to raise their voice against the economic, social and political issues that are dividing our nation today. The yatra seeks to address rampant unemployment & inflation, the politics of hate and division and the over-centralisation of our political system. People from all walks of life are coming together to be a part of this historic movement. Bharat Jodo Yatra is a mass movement started by the Indian National Congress (INC) that aims to unite the country against the divisive politics of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government at New Delhi, India. It was launched in Kanyakumari by former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Tamil Nadu chief-minister M. K. Stalin. It was created to fight against price rise, unemployment, political centralization, and especially against the politics of “fear, bigotry, and hate”. The Bharat Jodo Yatra was conceived by the Indian National Congress as a mass movement against alleged neglect of the aspirations of Indians by the BJP government headed by Narendra Modi. It claims that the BJP and the RSS seek to divide Indian society while inflation and unemployment surge. The party also wants to highlight what it calls the undermining of the federal structure of India through increasing centralization of power by the BJP government. The movement comes in the wake of what is seen as a rise in hate speech and violence against minorities, particularly Muslims and the under-privileged, since 2014, when the BJP came to power through the 2014 Indian general election. Simultaneously, India’s economic growth has not been creating enough jobs, resulting in high unemployment levels. Besides, rising inflation has affected most commodities that average households consume. The Bharat Jodo Yatra seeks to highlight all of these issues. The Congress party launched the logo, tagline, and website for Bharat Jodo Yatra at AICC headquarters on 23 August 2022. The march started from Kanyakumari on 7 September. It will be a 3,570-kilometre long, 150-day ‘non-stop’ march that will cover 12 states and two Union Territories from across the country in which Gandhi will meet people during the day and will sleep in makeshift accommodation in the night. It started from Kanyakumari and will end in Srinagar and will be done entirely by walking on foot. Yatris are scheduled to cover a total of 23 kilometres everyday in 2 shifts. The march has as of October 2022 covered more than 700 kilometres. There are several parallels between the Congress’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ and ex-prime minister of India Chandra Shekhar’s nearly 4,260 km Bharat Yatra in 1983. The Bharat Jodo Yatra used a variety of slogans, poetry, and songs, such as “‘Mile Kadam, Jude Vatan’ (walk together, unite the country), ‘‘Mehengai Se Nata Todo, Mil Kar Bharat Jodo’ (break ties with inflation, unite India), ‘Berozagari Ka Jaal Todo, Bharat Jodo’ (break the web of unemployment, unite India) and ‘Samvidhan Bachao’ (save the constitution) among others. The walk – averaging 23 km a day – was a time to experience the landscape, the people, the villages and towns of India. It gave me time to think. The mood was uniformly upbeat joining the Yatra was a personal protest against the state of the nation today, and a chance to show solidarity with someone standing up against it, especially the hate and divisiveness. It was also a protest against the shrinking of our freedoms. The organisation of the Yatra, which is being led by Rahul Gandhi, is a massive exercise in logistical planning. From planning the route, to locating the places where the containers in which the participants sleep can be parked in the night, to places for eating and resting during the day; from putting up hoardings and taking them down and moving them ahead; from providing water and refreshments (fruit, dry coconut with jaggery); from arranging breakfast and lunch sites for the yatris on the way; from a green truck following the yatra picking up (almost) all the discarded plastic waste – all this must have taken enormous planning. Mix this up with the masses of people thronging the roads or walking in the yatra for a little while, the security vehicles, ambulances, media truck, security personnel and the local police – and you could have a mobile, logistical nightmare. But it all worked well and very smoothly.