Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra 2.0 will begin on January 14 from Manipur in a nod to the northeastern state that’s still struggling to reach normal after months of ethnic violence. The 66-day 6,700-km march — now called Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra — will cover 15 states and over 100 Lok Sabha constituencies, before culminating at Gujarat’s Porbandar — the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. The party was initially planning to begin the yatra from Arunachal Pradesh.
As with the beginning, the name of the second phase of the march was changed. Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said they decided to add the word “Jodo” to recreate the impact generated by last year’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
“The idea of Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra is Justice. The objective is to ensure political, economic and social justice for people of India,” Mr Ramesh said.
The Bharat Jodo Kanyakumari-Srinagar Yatra, which traversed India from south to north, had generated much goodwill, the Congress had said. It also changed the perspective of many towards Mr Gandhi as a serious political leader with a warmth towards people, leaders of the Congress had privately admitted.
The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will begin from Imphal at 12.30 pm. It will pass through Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Arunanchal Pradesh, Meghalaya and went Bengal before reaching central India.
Unlike the last time though, the Yatra will not be entirely on foot. For parts of the journey, the party will use buses, Jairam Ramesh told reporters this afternoon.
The change is as much due to time constraint imposed by the general election as the health concerns of the party’s elderly leaders. More than one leader had made headlines last year due to the exertion they faced, keeping up with the superbly fit Rahul Gandhi.
“We are inviting leaders of all the parties of INDIA alliance, their supporters, the general public and NGOs to participate in the yatra,” Mr Ramesh said.
Asked if Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party – which has not pulled punches where the Congress is concerned – will be invited, Mr Ramesh said all parties that are part of the INDIA bloc have been invited. “And AAP and Arvind Kejriwal are part of INDIA,” he pointed out.
All Chief Ministers belonging to the opposition bloc will be present at Imphal to flag off the yatra, the Congress has said.