The Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra will enter Jammu and Kashmir on January 20, Congress leader Vikar Rasool Wani said on Monday and added the party will raise various issues including the demand for the restoration of its statehood prior to the assembly polls. A large number of Congress workers will walk alongside Gandhi from Lakhanpur to Srinagar, Wani, the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president, said.
He also thanked Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha for granting permission for the yatra and issuing necessary directions to the officers concerned for its smooth conduct. "After spending 10 days in neighbouring Punjab, the Bharat Jodo Yatra is crossing into Lakhanpur (Jammu and Kashmir) on January 20. A big event is planned by J&K Congress for the flag receiving ceremony at Lakhanpur," Wani told reporters at the party headquarters here on the sidelines of a function to welcome new entrants, mostly youth activists, into the party fold.
The Congress leader said the yatra is primarily aimed at uniting India by rejecting divisive politics and highlighting the concerns over inflation and unemployment but on reaching Jammu and Kashmir, one more demand will be added which is restoration of its statehood prior to the assembly elections.
"We appeal to all sections of society, social organisations, NGOs and all secular political parties sans those who are directly or indirectly linked to BJP to come forward and join the yara," he said. He said more than 90 organisations have expressed their desire to be part of the yatra.
Replying to a question on the likely impact of the yatra on the party's prospects in the upcoming elections, he said given the response of the people, no one can keep the Congress away from forming the government at the Centre in 2024 and in Jammu and Kashmir whenever the elections are held.
"What the BJP has done over the past nine years of its rule both at Centre and in J&K is before everyone to see. Its report card shows a big zero," he said when asked about BJP leaders' claim of forming the next government in J&K on its own strength. The 3500-kilometre Bharat Jodo Yatra, which started from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7, will end after reaching Srinagar by January 30 with Gandhi hoisting the national flag there.
The march has so far covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. It is currently in Haryana. Later in Srinagar, JKPCC president Wani said the yatra will conclude with a national event in Srinagar.
He said they have invited top party leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, chief ministers of Congress-ruled states and members of Parliament to attend the event. Earlier, several block development council members, sarpanches and panches joined the party at the PCC head office in Srinagar. Rasool welcomed the new entrants into the party fold.