As Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra entered its eleventh day, party leaders led by Rahul Gandhi started the march from Alappuzha on Sunday.
After completing 200 km, the Congress leaders resumed the Kerala leg of the yatra from Haripad in Alappuzha district on Sunday morning.
The padyatra will take halt at Sree Kuruttu Bhagavathi Temple in Thottappally. In the evening, the yatra will take a halt at TD Medical College and Hospital, Vandanam. The Yatra is in its Kerala leg and would traverse through the state for the next 12 days.
The 3,500-km march from Kanyakumari to Kashmir will be completed in 150 days and cover as many as 12 states. From Kerala, the Yatra will traverse through the state for the next 18 days, reaching Karnataka on September 30.
It will be in Karnataka for 21 days before moving north. The Padyatra (march) will cover a distance of 25 km every day.
Meanwhile, Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra was mired with controversy after a video surfaced of local Congress leaders allegedly extorting donations from a vegetable vendor in Kollam, Kerala.
A vegetable shopkeeper was allegedly threatened by Congress workers in Kollam for not contributing Rs 2,000 towards the collection of funds for the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
S Fawaz, a vegetable shopkeeper in Kollam alleged that Congress workers damaged the weighing machine of the shop and destroyed vegetables. He further alleged that the Congress workers created chaos and attacked the staff of the shop.
Following this, Kerala Congress on Friday suspended three party workers.
“Three party workers involved in an unacceptable incident in Kollam have been suspended with immediate effect. They do not represent our ideology and such behaviour is inexcusable. The party is crowdfunding small donations voluntarily unlike others who get corporate donations,” said Kerala Congress chief K Sudhakaran in a Twitter post.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked Congress over the matter and raised serious questions on the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, calling it a goonda yatra.
Speaking to ANI, BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla said that the Congress party is engaging goons across the country in the name of Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Rahul Gandhi said the yatra is a fight against exploitation.
“Fair wages, protection against exploitation, medical benefits, assured pensions and social security. All this and more are what the Bharat Jodo Yatra is fighting for,” said Gandhi in a Twitter post.
According to Congress, the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is being held to combat the divisive politics of the BJP-led Centre and to awaken the people of the country to the dangers of economic inequalities, social polarisation, and political centralization.
Rahul Gandhi said that the spirit of the Bharat Jodo Yatra is to bring Indians together irrespective of religion, and community and remind them that this is one country and it will be successful if we stand together and are respectful towards each other.
The Yatra includes Padayatras, rallies, and public meetings which will be later attended by the senior Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Notably, all the party MPs, leaders, and workers along with Rahul Gandhi are staying together. Sleeping beds, toilets, and ACs are also installed in some of the containers.
During the journey, the temperature and environment will differ in many areas. The arrangements have been made keeping in view the intense heat and humidity with the change of place.
The Congress suffered a debacle in the assembly polls held earlier this year and the Yatra is seen as an attempt to rally the party rank and file for the upcoming electoral battles.