Excuse to stop Bharat Jodo Yatra: Rahul Gandhi on Health minister’s letter

This yatra will go till Kashmir. They have got frightened by the truth and power of India. This is reality, says former Congress president

NEW DELHI | Updated: 22 December, 2022 7:43 pm IST
Rahul Gandhi (in white tee) during the Bharat Jodo Yatra

A day after Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya wrote to former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to stop his Bharat Jodo Yatra in the wake of a new variant of COVID cases, the former Congress president today hit out at the government, saying it was an “excuse” to halt the yatra if COVID protocols are not being followed.

Addressing the media in Haryana’s Nuh, where the yatra entered on Wednesday on day 105, Rahul Gandhi said, “This yatra will go till Kashmir. They sent me a letter informing me that COVID was on its way and that we should halt the yatra. It means that to stop the yatra excuses are being made, like wearing a mask, stop the yatra, COVID is spreading.”

Rahul Gandhi, who is also a Lok Sabha MP from Kerala’s Wayanad, said, “All these are excuses. They have been frightened by the truth and power of India. This is reality.”

The Congress leader further said that we have walked for more than 100 days in the yatra and people of different castes have participated in it.

Gandhi’s reaction came a day after Mandaviya wrote to the Congress leader, urging him to postpone his Bharat Jodo Yatra amid the health risk posed by the emergence of a new COVID variant from China and the US.

Mandaviya called an emergency meeting with officers from the Union health ministry and health departments of various states on Wednesday. On the same day, the ministry warned against a possible surge in infections and asked state governments to start the genome sequencing of samples.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a virtual high-level meeting in New Delhi on Thursday to review the health situation in India. The meeting comes a day after Mandaviya took stock of the COVID situation in India and asked people to start taking precautions by wearing masks in crowded places and getting vaccinated.

Meanwhile, authorities have decided to conduct random Coronavirus testing at airports for international passengers arriving from China and other affected countries.

The BF.7 variant has been blamed for a sudden increase in infections in China, overwhelming its health infrastructure in Beijing and several other cities.
Hospitals are not able to cope with the huge influx of patients, and pharmacies have run out of medicine. Beijing reported five deaths from COVID on Tuesday.
This variant is much more transmissible than earlier coronavirus strains, health experts have warned.

India currently has more than 3400 active cases of COVID-19 infection, with the positivity rate standing at 0.19 per cent.

On Tuesday, the central government appealed to all states and union territories to ramp up the genome sequencing of positive samples to keep track of emerging variants.

Rahul Gandhi started his Bharat Jodo Yatra from Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari on September 7. The yatra has passed through the states of TN, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The yatra is currently in Haryana and will enter Delhi on Saturday morning.

The Yatra will take a break of over eight days in Delhi as some containers require maintenance, and then will again start on January 3 from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad. The yatra will conclude in Jammu and Kashmir.

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