Congress leaders sharply criticised the Union government on Sunday, January 14 as they kick-started their 66-day-long Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra from Khongjom War Memorial in Thoubal district of Manipur, built in memory of those killed in the last Anglo-Manipur War of 1891. After paying tributes at the memorial, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge flagged off the campaign.
Addressing a massive gathering, Rahul Gandhi made some scathing remarks against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleging that the party fuelled violence and hate in the northeastern state. “After June 29, 2023, Manipur was not Manipur anymore. It was divided and hatred was sown everywhere. A large number of people, including women and children, died in the last eight months but Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not reach the state to wipe the tears. Maybe for him, BJP and RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh], Manipur is not part of India,” he said.
Stating that BJP-RSS have been spreading hate through their political campaign, Rahul said Congress understands the pain and sadness among people, and promised to bring back harmony, peace and affection in Manipur. Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann-Ki-Baat, he said Congress listened to the woes of people from all walks of life and is again ready to listen to the ‘Mann-ki-baat’ (speech of the heart) of the people.
“We got a huge response in our previous Yatra from Kanniyakumari to Kashmir. I have never witnessed such a terrifying situation in the state since I joined politics in 2004. The country has been passing through a period of great political injustice. Monopolasation of the economy has destroyed small and medium industries.
Marginalised people, Dalits and tribals have no role in governance,” he added. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, in his speech, criticised PM Modi for resorting to vote bank politics by ‘chanting ram naam’ but failing to visit the violence-ravaged Manipur. “Before the 2019 election, the BJP promised to give two crore jobs every year. Where are the jobs? Injustice has been meted out to all communities. Through Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, we promise to return justice to every one– Dalit, tribals, women, and youth,” Kharge said.
He further added that during the regime of former Congress Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, six northeastern states -- Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh -- got their statehood and all kinds of development were undertaken.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, former deputy chief minister of Rajasthan Sachin Pilot, Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh, Pawan Khera, Pramod Tiwari, Gaurav Gogoi, Salman Khurshid, Digvijaya Singh, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Karti Chidambaram and other leaders participated in the Yatra.
Lok Sabha MP Danish Ali, who was suspended by Mayawati-led The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), announced that he would join Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, saying that he would be failing in his duty as a politician if he did not join “biggest drive for unity and justice.”
The 66-day long yatra will traverse 6,713 km, mostly in buses but also on foot. It will cover 110 districts in 100 parliamentary constituencies in 15 states, before culminating in Mumbai on March 20 or 21. Besides Manipur (107 km in one day), the yatra will cover four other northeastern states, namely Nagaland (257 km in two days), Arunachal Pradesh (55 km in one day), Meghalaya (five km in one day) and Assam (833 km in eight days). During the Yatra, Rahul Gandhi will address small public gatherings and interact with people, civil society members and various organisations.
(With inputs from IANS)