Congress can fulfil dream of a progressive, liberal and secular India: Mallikarjun Kharge

The Congress is preparing ground-level contact programmes, including State-wide yatras and district-level campaigns, as a follow-up to the Bharat Jodo Yatra

Published - January 01, 2023 09:28 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party President Mallikarjun Kharge and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot at a public meeting during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, in Alwar, on Dec. 19, 2022.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party President Mallikarjun Kharge and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot at a public meeting during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, in Alwar, on Dec. 19, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Before the Bharat Jodo Yatra’s (BJY) onward march to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) — through Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab — resumes on January 3, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Sunday posted a New Year message that conveyed the yatra’s theme.

“Hoping that in 2023, every lane, every village, every city will have a mohabbat ki dukaan (a shop that sells love). Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!” Mr. Gandhi tweeted, with a video collage of his yatra that has been on the road for 108 days before taking a nine-day-long year-end break.

Though the tweet doesn’t quite answer what is next for the party after the Bharat Jodo Yatra reaches its final destination of Srinagar by January 26, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge’s New Year message brings clarity to the party’s ideological positioning. 

“Every Indian should feel that Congress is the medium and vehicle in realising their dreams and aspirations of a secular, progressive and liberal India. Congress has always stood for India, and we need to strengthen this ideological bond and invaluable relationship,” the Congress chief said in his message to citizens and party cadres.

Future plans

But as far as Mr. Gandhi’s plans are concerned, they still seem to be unclear. “The other day somebody was asking me ‘what next?’ He was saying we should start planning what to do after the yatra. Someone else was saying we should start an east-west yatra, some others were saying something else. Look, this yatra is telling us something. If we get onto doing something without listening to what the yatra is telling us, it will be insulting the voices of the people of India,” he told reporters on Saturday.

The party is working out various ground-level contact programmes in an effort to reconnect with the voters in 2023.

On January 5, Mr. Kharge will launch the Bihar edition of the yatra that will travel across the State. “The idea is to keep the momentum going by carrying forward the goodwill and message generated by Rahul Ji’s yatra,” senior Congress leader Kishore Kumar Jha said.

Similar yatras have been carried out in States that have not been covered by the main route of the BJY and they include Assam, Tripura and Odisha. West Bengal too will have its own version of the march.

Follow-up campaign

From January 26, the party has already announced the Haath se haath jodo abhiyaan, a follow-up of the Bharat Jodo Yatra that will focus on connecting with people at the grassroot level. That campaign is expected to continue till March and will culminate in district-level conventions and State-level public rallies.

As part of this campaign, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will lead foot marches and rallies with women members in State capitals. She will also be leading programmes where women party workers will be focusing on rising inflation and women-related issues.

In his New Year message to party colleagues, Mr. Kharge said, “Let this be the year that we work hard to raise the voice of every Indian, especially the weakest. The onus is on us to save our Constitution and Democratic ethos”.

“It is time to shed the barriers which divide us and rekindle in ourselves the values of love, compassion, tolerance and fraternity. This is the time to unify each aspiration and reinforce the civilisational ideals that bind us together. Let us reclaim the ideas and ideals of an inclusive society where peace and harmony prevail,” he added.

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