Shimla: The Rahul Gandhi-led ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ entered Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday morning with the senior Congress leader targeting the BJP-RSS combine and accusing it of spreading hatred, violence and fear in the country.
After the march entered the state near Ghatota village, Punjab Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring handed over the flag to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and state Congress chief Pratibha Singh.
Gandhi then addressed people gathered in Manser village to participate in the march and welcome him.
“All the policies of the Union government demonetisation, GST and anti-farm laws were aimed at benefiting three-four multi-millionaires,” he said.
“Welfare of farmers, the youth and workers was not on the agenda,” Gandhi added.
Braving the cold weather, hundreds of Congress workers, along with Chief Minister Sukhu, his deputy Mukesh Agnihotri, state party chief Pratibha Singh, state ministers and party MLAs, welcomed the yatra at the Manser toll plaza near Indora.
Flanked by the state ministers on a foggy morning, Gandhi walked at a brisk pace amid sloganeering by enthusiastic party workers. Tight security arrangements were in place for the yatra and only select people were allowed to enter the security ring.
Gandhi, however, interacted with people, especially the youngsters, along the march route, besides party leaders.
“The two important issues of unemployment and inflation are brushed aside by the BJP. We started this yatra from Kanyakumari four months back to unite people and bring them together and raise these issues as we were not allowed to speak in Parliament. We could not raise the issues through the judiciary and the media as they are under pressure from the BJP,” he claimed.
Gandhi said the Bharat Jodo Yatra was aimed at uniting the nation against communal and divisive forces and giving a befitting reply to the nefarious designs of the BJP and the RSS. “My aim is to unite the people and the nation against the anti-people policies of the BJP,” he added.
“Earlier, Himachal Pradesh was not in the itinerary but we changed the route of the yatra to cover the state. Only one day was allotted and I feel more time should have been given, but the yatra is proposed to conclude in Kashmir on January 30 the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi,” the Congress leader added.
“It has been a learning experience and during the yatra, we made an attempt to know what is in the hearts of the people and focus on those issues,” he said. Later, Gandhi also visited the historic Shiva Temple at Kathgarh to pay obeisance.
Meanwhile, state BJP chief Suresh Kashyap issued a statement here, ridiculing the Congress and claimed that since independence, the party has only tried to break India and its record is of “Bharat Todo”.
The Congress leaders started scams from 1948 and those are still fresh in the minds of people, he added.
The Congress march will cover 24 kilometres in the Indora assembly segment during the day and Gandhi is scheduled to address a public meeting at Malot village in the evening.
Welcoming the yatra participants to the state and thanking Rahul Gandhi for including Himachal Pradesh in the march, Sukhu attributed the Congress’ victory to the party’s policies and the triumph of truth over lies.
State Congress chief Pratibha Singh said the party has already started fulfilling its poll promises and the process to implement the Old Pension Scheme has been initiated.
The march, which started from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7, spanning 3,570 kms, will conclude in Srinagar by January 30, with Gandhi hoisting the national flag in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
It has so far passed through Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.