Gandhi said he did not take this Yatra for Congress or himself but for the country’s people.
Afnan Habib | TwoCircles.net
SRINAGAR (JAMMU & KASHMIR) — Amid heavy snowfall, senior Congress leader and member of parliament Rahul Gandhi concluded his Bharat Jodo Yatra on January 30 with a rally at Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium in the Sonwar area of Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. Leaders of various national and regional parties joined Rahul Gandhi at the rally to mark the formal culmination of the Yatra.
Rahul Gandhi raised the national flag at the “Bharat Jodo Yatra” campsite earlier in Srinagar. He expressed gratitude to the “Bharat Yatris” for their love, support, and companionship during the 136-day foot march that started in Kanyakumari on September 7 last year.
Before culminating the rally at Sonwar, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, joined by other leaders, hoisted the National flag at the Congress Headquarters at Maulana Azad road in the Lal Chowk area of Srinagar at around 11:20 a.m.
Addressing the rally amidst heavy snowfall at the closing ceremony of the Yatra, Rahul Gandhi remarked that he was informed of a possible attack on him in Kashmir, but “people here gave me hearts full of love instead of hand grenades.”
“I did not walk for myself or the Congress, but for the country’s people. We aim to stand against the ideology that wants to destroy the foundations of this country,” he said.
He continued by saying that members of the BJP cannot walk in Jammu and Kashmir in this manner because “they are afraid.” Reflecting on his father Rajiv Gandhi’s murder, he talked about the anguish of losing a loved one and said he could relate to people who had lost family members in the Pulwama attack.
Rahul’s sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, also spoke at the event and stated that the central message of the Bharat Jodo Yatra was to spread love and call for the end of hatred by uniting the hearts.
“Since starting his journey from Kanyakumari, my brother has been walking for five months. It was a lengthy journey, and I had previously wondered if anyone would show up. But people showed up everywhere during the Yatra. Because of the nation’s feeling of solidarity, they came out,” she said.
Congress President Kharge lauded the people of Kashmir for their kind reception and for being “more liberal and accommodative.” “For us, speaking in the snow is a unique experience. During the Yatra, people have endured everything. Rahul has demonstrated his ability to unite people from Kanyakumari to Kashmir,” the Congress President said.
Top Kashmiri leaders, including two former chief ministers of J&K, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, were also present at the event.
While Praising Rahul Gandhi during his address, Omar Abdullah declared the Yatra a success. “This Yatra has demonstrated that while certain citizens of the nation support the BJP, others support the principle of fraternity,” he said.
Omar also encouraged Gandhi to undertake a Yatra from west to east and said he’d like to walk with him in the Yatra.
Rahul Gandhi was hailed as the nation’s ray of hope by PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti. “Rahul, you said that Kashmir was now your home. It indeed is. I hope everything that the Godse doctrine stole from J&K and our country will be recovered,” she said.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Rahul Gandhi claimed that the journey had taught him a lot and that he had gained a new perspective on the nation. He also said that the restoration of democratic process and statehood is imperative and the fundamental right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Roads in the valley were closed due to heavy snowfall, impacting the Yatra’s grand finale. The closing ceremony of the Yatra had to be shortened by Congress.
Afnan Habib is a freelance journalist based in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. He tweets @afnanhabib