Rahul Gandhi to begin Bharat Nyay Yatra from Manipur on January 14

With a focus on social, economic and political justice, the Congress hopes that it can counter BJP’s politics post Ram Mandir inauguration at Ayodhya

December 27, 2023 10:51 am | Updated December 28, 2023 12:30 am IST - New Delhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party’s General Secretary K. C. Venugopal.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party’s General Secretary K. C. Venugopal. | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi added “justice” to the theme of “unity and love” as the party on Wednesday announced the Bharat Nyay Yatra from Manipur to Mumbai, as a follow-up to the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

The Nyay yatra will start on January 14 from Manipur’s capital Imphal and will conclude on March 20 in Mumbai.

Addressing a press conference at the All India Congress Committee headquarters with communications chief Jairam Ramesh, party general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal said the Bharat Nyay Yatra will be mostly covered by bus along with short stretches of walking.

The east-west yatra will cover around 6,200 km across 14 States, travelling through Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.

The yatra, covering most of the States which were not covered by the earlier Bharat Jodo Yatra, will be flagged off by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge from Imphal on January 14.

“On December 21, the Congress Working Committee unanimously gave an opinion that Rahul Gandhiji should start a yatra from east to west. Now, Rahulji also agreed to fulfil the wishes of the CWC,” Mr. Venugopal said.

He added that interactions will be held with women, youths, and the marginalised communities during the 6,200-km yatra.

Asked about the rationale behind choosing Manipur as the starting point of the yatra, Mr. Venugopal said the party wanted to begin the process of “healing the wounds” of the people of the northeastern State. Since May 3, the State had seen one of the worst ethnic conflicts between the Kuki and Meitei communities, resulting in more than 200 deaths and rendering nearly 60,000 people homeless.

Asked if leaders of Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc would be taking part, Mr. Venugopal said details are being worked out.

Mr. Ramesh said the first edition of the Bharat Jodo Yatra had raised the issues of economic inequality, social polarisation and authoritarian style of governance. The second leg of the yatra will focus on social, economic and political justice for the people of the country, he said.

“After spreading the message of unity, love and harmony through Bharat Jodo Yatra, Gandhi will seek justice for the people of the country,” Mr. Ramesh said.

As Mr. Gandhi’s yatra traverses through the Hindi heartland States such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, there will be renewed emphasis on social justice by raising the issue of caste census and ensuring the OBCs [Other Backward Classes] their “rightful share” in the country’s development.

By focusing on social justice, the Congress could also be hoping to build a counter-narrative to the BJP’s plans to make political capital after the grand inauguration of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya on January 22.

Mr. Gandhi, speaking to mediapersons during the Winter Session of Parliament, did not agree with the contention that the voters of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan had rejected the party’s OBC outreach in the recent Assembly elections. “No, they have not rejected. Yes, they have given an OBC Chief Minister [in Madhya Pradesh] but that’s not the issue. The question is what is their share in the structure? The Prime Minister is an OBC but the government is run by 90 officers and there are only three of them,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Addressing unemployment

The issue of unemployment and inflation will prominently figure in the Nyay yatra. Mr. Gandhi had cited them as the main reasons behind the two youth breaching Parliament security and jumping into the Lok Sabha chamber from the visitors’s gallery.

“There has definitely been a security breach and that’s there. But why did it happen? The biggest issue before the country is unemployment and it’s simmering across the country because of Modiji’s policies,” Mr. Gandhi had responded when asked about the December 13 security breach. “Where are the jobs? The youth are disappointed. We have to focus on this issue and provide jobs to the youth,” he added.

And the theme of political justice would revolve around “protecting the values enshrined in the Constitution”.

Mr. Ramesh explained the difference between the Bharat Jodo Yatra and its follow-up, Bharat Nyay Yatra, in a post on X. He said Bharat Jodo Yatra was anchored in the Constitution’s Preamble’s pillars of “liberty, equality and fraternity”.

“The Bharat Nyay Yatra is anchored in the Preamble’s very first pillar of justice — social, economic and political. The repeated assaults on the Constitution will not be allowed to succeed!” the Congress communications chief noted.

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