The Congress also organised a lunch in the village of Badanavalu for Dalits and Lingayats, who have not interacted after the caste killings in 1993.

Rahul Gandhi visits Karnataka’s Badanavalu village on Gandhi Jayanti, pays tributespti
news Bharat Jodo Yatra Monday, October 03, 2022 - 14:26

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday, October 2 paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary and said while it is convenient for those in power to appropriate the legacy of the Father of the Nation, it is difficult to walk in his footsteps. Rahul, who visited a Khadi Gramodyog Kendra in Badanavalu in Karnataka that Mahatma Gandhi had visited in 1927 and 1932, said the ideology that killed the freedom fighter has delivered inequality and divisiveness in the last eight years.

He also participated in a prayer meeting and spent an hour interacting with women weavers at the Khadi Gramodyog Kendra. Later, he visited Badanavalu village near Mysuru and interacted with the villagers besides doing 'Shramdaan' (voluntary work) by laying a pavement. The former Congress chief also painted the tricolour with village children.

Badanavalu village was also the site of caste killings that occurred in March 1993. Three Dalits from the village were killed and six others were injured, when upper caste Lingayats attacked them over a dispute about entry to a local temple. Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee state president DK Shivakumar said that a meeting was organised with Dalits and Lingayats for the first time after the caste killings in 1993. “These two communities have not come together since 1993. We have tried to unite them and get them to work together. We have also paved roads here and painted some of the houses. After 29 years, the communities attended a lunch together with Rahul Gandhi,” he said. 

The Congress team paved a 170-metre road connecting the two communities that was abandoned after the riots. The newly paved road with colourful tiles was named ‘Bharat Jodo Road,’ and Rahul Gandhi also laid a few tiles during his visit to the village. Priyank Kharge, who is the chairman of the communication wing of the state Congress, said rebuilding the road was an attempt to heal the fractures within the community and bring harmony. “This is not just rebuilding a road, but an attempt to unite people and also uphold the constitution of this country,” he said.

In a statement, Rahul Gandhi said, "Just as Gandhiji fought the British Raj, we ... (have) embarked on a battle with the very ideology that killed Gandhi. This ideology has delivered inequality, divisiveness and the erosion of our hard-won freedoms in the past eight years. Against this politics of himsa (violence) and 'asatya' (lies), the Bharat Jodo Yatra will spread the message of Ahimsa and 'swaraj' from Kanyakumari to Kashmir," adding that 'swaraj' has different meanings.

He also said that it was the freedom of our states to exercise their constitutional freedoms and of our villages to practise Panchayati Raj. “It is also the conquest of the self, whether it is the 'Bharat yatris' who are travelling 3,600 km on foot or the lakhs of citizens who are walking with us for shorter periods. It might be convenient for those in power to appropriate Gandhiji's legacy, but it is much more difficult to walk in his footsteps," he said.

Rahul Gandhi reached Gundlupet in Karnataka on September 30 from Gudalur in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. He is presently in Mysuru.

(With PTI inputs)

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