Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra reaches Bihar; Rahul Gandhi slams PM, silent on Nitish Kumar

Gandhi asks people of Bihar to keep fighting for social justice; he accuses BJP and RSS of spreading hatred and violence in the country

January 29, 2024 08:14 pm | Updated January 30, 2024 07:10 am IST - Patna

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Bihar Congress chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh during a road show in Kishanganj in Bihar on January 29, 2024.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Bihar Congress chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh during a road show in Kishanganj in Bihar on January 29, 2024. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra on January 29 reached Bihar, where he addressed a rally in Kishanganj district. During his speech, he slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanded a caste-based census across the country, but failed to speak about Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s shift to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).

Mr. Gandhi termed Bihar as “the land of social justice” and said the country was “looking at the people of Bihar” because no one understands social justice better than people of the State.

“At the time when the BJP and RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] talk about dividing the country on basis of caste and religion apart from spreading hatred, the Congress party is focusing on spreading love, respect and brotherhood,” Mr. Gandhi said.

The former Congress president informed the audience that he added the word “nyay” (justice) to the name of his yatra because the poor people of the country are unable to get economic and social justice. He said the country’s economy “has been handed over to a few billionaires” under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Airports, ports, infrastructure, hospitals, and universities... everything is being handed over to two to three industrialists,” he criticised.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Bihar Congress chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh during a road show in Kishanganj in Bihar on Monday. 

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Bihar Congress chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh during a road show in Kishanganj in Bihar on Monday.  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

He claimed the Central government does not help the poor, labourers or farmers and that the doors of banks are closed for the poor “but they are always open for industrialists at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office”.

“Without social and economic justice, the country can never develop. What the BJP talks about is just hollow. For example, OBCs [Other Backward Castes] account for 50% of the population in the country, 15% are Dalits, 15% are Minority, and 12% Tribal. The government of this country is run by 90 IAS officers and they are ones who allocate the budget to defence, health, agriculture, and other sectors. I want to tell the OBC people of Bihar that there are only three OBC IAS officers among the 90. If ₹100 is allocated, then the OBC officer allocates ₹5. This is the reality,” Mr. Gandhi said.

The Congress leader stressed that everyone has the right to know the exact population of OBCs, minority communities, tribal and general classes, and for that, caste-based census is a “revolutionary step”.

“I have come to Bihar to inform people how important social and economic justice is. Caste census is necessary because only after caste census, every community will get to know its population and what is its right,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Bihar Congress chief Akhilesh Singh and party communications in-charge Jairam Ramesh were also accompanying him.

While Mr. Gandhi remained silent on Mr. Kumar, Mr. Ramesh launched a broadside on the Bihar CM. Addressing the media ahead of the rally, Mr. Ramesh said, “A great politician was once called a ‘weathercock’ [a reference to the late Ram Vilas Paswan, who was known to predict which way the political winds would blow]. Nitish Kumar ji is no weathercock, rather he is political chameleon. Even chameleons will get confused that he has so many colours. He used to be the symbol of sushashan [good governance] but now has become the symbol of palti [turncoat]. No impact on INDIA alliance despite his exit.” Mr. Singh said Mr. Kumar was supposed to challenge Mr. Modi but “kneeled down and surrendered before him”.

The yatra in Bihar started from Seemanchal region, currently a stronghold of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress in Bihar. The yatra entered through Siliguri in West Bengal and will cover 425 km over four days in the State before heading to Jharkhand.

Seemanchal, situated in north Bihar, comprises four districts: Purnea, Katihar, Kishanganj and Araria. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the NDA won three seats and the Congress one. At that time, the JD(U) too was part of the NDA.

The Katihar and Purnea Lok Sabha seats are now with the JD(U), Araria with the BJP and Kishanganj with Congress. It is significant that the Seemanchal region has a 47% Muslim population, which augurs well for the Congress and RJD. The four districts represent 24 Assembly constituencies and Seemanchal therefore holds significance for the 2025 Assembly election too.

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