Thousands of people joined the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra today as Rahul Gandhi marched through Delhi amid calls by the Health Minister to follow Covid protocols.
Several party leaders, including Jairam Ramesh, Pawan Khera, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Kumari Selja and Randeep Surjewala were seen marching with Mr Gandhi.
Later, former Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi also joined Rahul. This is the second time Sonia Gandhi has joined the yatra. In October, she had taken part in the Congress’ mega foot march in Karnataka.
As the Bharat Jodo Yatra entered the national capital from Faridabad early this morning, Delhi Congress Chief Anil Chaudhary welcomed Mr Gandhi, other party leaders and the yatris at Badarpur Border amid “Rahul Zindabad” chants.
While addressing party workers and leaders, Rahul Gandhi reiterated that the motive of his yatra is to open a ‘mohabbat ki dukaan’ (shop of love) amid a ‘nafrat ka bazaar’ (market of hatred).
“Common man of the country is now talking about love. In every state, lakhs have joined the yatra. I have told people of RSS and BJP that we are here to open shop of love in your ‘bazar’ of hatred,” Mr Gandhi said.
Mr Gandhi said the purpose of the Yatra is to showcase “real Hindustan” where people help each other. “They (BJP, RSS) spread hatred, we (Congress) spread love,” he said.
Earlier, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had written to Rahul Gandhi asking him to ensure Covid “protocols” are followed during Bharat Jodo Yatra.
In his clapback, Mr Gandhi cited PM Narendra Modi’s recent poll campaign in Gujarat and the BJP’s “Jan Aakrosh Yatra” in Rajasthan. “The BJP is taking out yatras in various states. But the Health Minister is sending letter only to us,” he said.
Congress had alleged that the BJP wanted to stop Mr Gandhi’s yatra as it is scared of the love Bharat Jodo Yatra has received.
Today’s yatra will conclude at Red Fort in the evening with a three-hour break at Ashram. Congress’ mega march, which completed 100 days on December 16, will take a nine-day year-end break and will again resume on January 3 from Delhi.
The Delhi Police have released a traffic advisory asking commuters to avoid certain routes and make “maximum use” of public transport. The traffic, says the advisory, is expected to remain heavy from Badarpur to Red Fort.
“There will be graded and dynamic diversion to ensure smooth traffic management and facilitate commuters while ensuring safety of pedestrians on roads,” said the advisory.