The ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ began from Tamil Nadu, and moved through Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana, before entering the central Indian phase from Maharashtra, with a massive crowd expected to join Gandhi.
After taking a night`s rest at a local mill ground in Deglur town, Rahul Gandhi will start the 14-day long Maharashtra leg of the Yatra on Tuesday morning which would take him through six Lok Sabha and 15 Assembly constituencies spanning 381 kms in five districts of Marathwada-Vidarbha regions.
For the next fortnight in the state, he will undertake a gruelling four-hour morning schedule from 6 a.m. and a three-hour evening schedule from 4.30 pm, traversing through hamlets, villages, towns and cities en route, marching around 22-25 kms daily.
The MP from Wayanad, who has already won admiration for his down-to-earth attitude, enviable fitness and brisk walking style, will also address two major rallies in which Congress leaders say several lakhs of people from all over the state are expected to participate at different places en route.
After walking through Nanded, Hingoli, Washim, Akola and Buldhana districts, the BJY will enter Madhya Pradesh on November 20, though efforts are reportedly on to tweak the schedules and add three more days in Maharashtra following demands by the local leaders. The two big rallies Gandhi will address are scheduled in Nanded on November 10 and Buldhana on November 18.
Besides, during the BJY, he conducts daily small meetings, personal interactions with the local population, impromptu street-corner meetings, mingling with the masses, discussing their concerns, the problems confronting the nation like inflation, unemployment, spiralling fuel prices, women`s safety, etc.
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Top leaders of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Shiv Sena-UBT will join the Bharat Jodo Yatra at different points. Though NCP President Sharad Pawar had committed to join the march with Gandhi, the possibility seems remote now given his delicate health condition now, while the Sena-UBT President and ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray may depute a high-level delegation comprising senior leaders to walk a part of the BJY.
Arvind Sawant and Manisha Kayande will join the yatra from Udhav Balasaheb Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena.
Many big congress leaders will be joining the Bharat Jodo Yatra including Nana Patole, Balasaheb Thorat, Bhaijagtap, Ashok Chavan and others.
Bharat Jodo Yatra, which began on September 7 from Kanyakumari, will cover a further distance of 2,355 km in its 3,570-km march. It will end in Kashmir next year. It is the longest march on foot by any Indian politician in the history of India, the Congress claimed earlier in a statement.
Bharat Jodo Yatra is getting support from various political parties and social organizations across the country and the response is increasing day by day. In Maharashtra too, the NCP and Shiv Sena (Thackeray faction) have agreed to participate in the yatra, adding to its importance.
Notably, all the party MPs, leaders and workers along with Rahul Gandhi are staying in containers. Sleeping beds, toilets and ACs are also installed in some of the containers. The arrangements have been made keeping in view the intense heat and humidity with the change of places.
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.