Congress president Sonia Gandhi joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra, which resumed its journey in Pandavapura in Karnataka’s Mandya district on Thursday after a two-day Dasara break.
She joined the yatra, led by her son Rahul Gandhi, MP, for the first time since it began on September 7 and wound its way through parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala before entering Karnataka on September 30. She was participating in a public event after a long gap, said party sources.
Ms. Gandhi joined the march about two weeks before the yatra’s mammoth public rally scheduled to be held in Ballari from where she was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1999.
On Thursday, several other party leaders, including the former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president D.K. Shivakumar, walked alongside her within a security ring amid cheers and sloganeering by the party supporters. Police and other security personnel had a tough time controlling the surging crowds that jostled to catch a glimpse of the Congress president.
While Mr. Shivakumar said Ms. Gandhi’s participation in the “historic” yatra had given strength to a large number of women, youth, and farmers in the country, All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Karnataka Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Congress president, accompanied by Mr. Gandhi, walking shoulder to shoulder with others, had “energised” thousands of workers.
“Congress president Sonia Gandhi walked with @Rahul Gandhi & padayatris between Jakkanahalli & Karadya in Mandya district. Her proramme was for only 30 mins. She stayed with #BharatJodoYatra for 2 hrs, energised by the support of people of Karnataka & in turn strenghtening our resolve,” tweeted Congress general secretrary in charge of communications Jairam Ramesh.
Kharge to join
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader M. Mallikarjun Kharge, who is in the race for the post of Congress president, is scheduled to join the yatra on Friday. Though he was expected to participate in the padayatra on Thursday, party sources said his participation was put off by a day to ensure that a “wrong message” is not sent by his presence on the same day as Ms. Gandhi’s.