Chandigarh/Amritsar: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi offered prayers at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Tuesday, a day before the start of the Punjab leg of his party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Gandhi arrived at the Amritsar airport in the afternoon after concluding the Haryana leg of the foot march.
Sporting an orange turban, the former Congress chief paid obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple.
“By reaching Sri Harmandir Sahib, the faith in human values becomes even deeper. Sat Shri Akal!” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Gandhi also posted a few pictures on Twitter, where he is seen taking “parshad” and listening to “gurbani” during his Golden Temple visit.
Gandhi was accompanied by Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Partap Singh Bajwa, local MP Gurjit Singh Aujla and other party leaders.
Till Tuesday morning, several Punjab Congress leaders were not aware of Gandhi’s plan to visit Amritsar.
Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh had told reporters in Ambala earlier in the day that Gandhi, who is leading the Bharat Jodo Yatra, will visit the Golden Temple.
From Amritsar, Gandhi went to Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib where he will stay for the night.
Meanwhile, ahead of the Punjab leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) targeted the Congress over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
“The way Sikhs were killed in 1984, the Congress never felt ashamed of it. I hope that during his yatra, he (Gandhi) will seek an apology from Punjabis for that heinous act,” Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma said.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal dubbed Gandhi’s yatra as a “drama” and slammed the Congress for the 1984 riots.
According to the schedule of the yatra, Gandhi will pay obeisance at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib in Sirhind on Wednesday morning and thereafter, the Punjab leg of the foot march will start.
During its eight-day stay in Punjab, the yatra is scheduled to pass through Mandi Gobindgarh, Khanna, Sahnewal, Ludhiana, Goraya, Phagwara, Jalandhar, Dasyua and Mukerian.
A rally will be organised at Pathankot on January 19, before the march enters Jammu and Kashmir.
Gandhi will walk three hours each in the morning and the evening, covering 25 kilometres every day.
Ramesh said on January 12, the yatra will cover the distance for the day at a stretch and take a break in the afternoon, which will continue for the entire day on January 13 in view of the Lohri festival.
Warring said Gandhi is scripting “history” with the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
“All set for #BharatJodoYatra to enter Punjab today. @RahulGandhi ji is scripting history. Punjabis have always been part of great and glorious events and movements. Saying it again. It’s not the Congress party’s yatra. It’s a yatra of Indians, by Indians, for Indians. Jai Hind,” the Punjab Congress chief said in a tweet.
“Paid obeisance at the Harmandir Sahib alongwith @rahulgandhi ji as he begins the Punjab leg of the #BharatJodoYatra from the land of gurus, rishis, pirs and martyrs,” Warring said in another tweet.
Earlier in the morning, Gandhi resumed the foot march from Shahpur in Haryana’s Ambala Cantonment. The former Congress chief was also joined by party leader Raj Babbar.
The yatra entered Haryana’s Panipat from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh on Thursday and passed through Karnal and Kurukshetra districts, before reaching Ambala.
In the first phase in Haryana from December 21 to 23, the yatra had passed through Nuh, Gurugram and Faridabad districts.
Ramesh said the yatra covered 255 kilometres in Haryana over eight days and passed through seven districts.
During the Haryana leg of the march, Gandhi was accompanied by senior Congress leaders Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Kumari Selja, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Deepender Singh Hooda, K C Venugopal and state Congress chief Udai Bhan, among others.
The yatra, which started from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7, will conclude in Srinagar by January 30, with Gandhi hoisting the national flag in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
The march has so far covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.