At snow-covered Srinagar, Congress hope for warmth of coalition

At the culmination of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, Congress’ dream of a unified opposition remained a distant dream despite the presence of few opposition leaders

SRINAGAR | Updated: 30 January, 2023 10:42 pm IST
Some of the opposition parties attended the rally at the culmination of Bharat Jodo Yatra

While Congress’ attempt to stitch a united opposition against the PM Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) juggernaut has yet to bear any significant results, it seems the party is looking at some positives in that aspect.

Braving heavy snowfall in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) leader Omar Abdullah and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (JKPDP) boss Mehbooba Mufti, joined former Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Apart from Abdullah and Mufti, leaders from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) also joined the culmination of the Yatra.

While some prominent political parties, including the Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (United), stayed away from the Yatra, terming it political, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said, “Bharat Jodo Yatra was not for winning elections but against hate.”

Addressing the rally at the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium, Gandhi said, “I have not done this work for myself or the party. But this work was done for the people of India. It is our endeavour to stand united against the ideology that is trying to break this country. I know once we stand united against it, we can beat them and remove that ideology from their hearts. We are opening a shop of love in the marketplace of hatred.”

Talking about the love he received in the valley, Gandhi said, “Several people advised me to traverse the Yatra in a vehicle. My security team, KC Venugopal and those organising it, advised me to do so. The administration, maybe scared, said that grenades would be thrown at me.”

“Why shouldn’t I give those who despise me the opportunity to turn the colour of my white shirt red? My family and Gandhi ji have taught me that if I have to live my life, I must live it fearlessly. But as I thought, instead of tossing grenades, the people of Jammu and Kashmir opened their hearts and embraced me,” Gandhi said.

Lashing out at the BJP, Gandhi said that the Yatra was not organised for him or Congress but to highlight how the BJP’s ideology is destroying the foundation of the country.

“What is Kashmiriyat? It’s the thought of Shivji. On the other hand, in Islam, it’s called fanaa. Thinking is the same, the thought of Lord Shiva is Kashmiriyat, you can call it Shunyata and I have attacked my thoughts and my pride,” Gandhi said, taking a philosophical lookout.

Talking about his much-talked-about half-sleeve look throughout the Yatra, Gandhi narrated a story of four children, whom he met during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Gandhi said, “They were beggars who did not wear sweaters. They were shivering in the winter. They made me not wear a sweater or jacket as well during the Yatra.”

Speaking at the finale of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, CPI leader D Raja said, “All secular parties must come together to liberate the country from the BJP.”

Former J&K CM Abdullah said, “I request Rahul Gandhi to undertake Yatra from west to east. We would like to walk with him.” PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said, “Whole country is seeing a ray of hope in Rahul Gandhi.”

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