Sixty-member team works round the clock to keep Bharat Jodo Yatra going | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Sixty-member team works round the clock to keep Bharat Jodo Yatra going

Nov 10, 2022 01:03 AM IST

Nanded: As Rahul Gandhi’s much-talked-about Bharat Jodo Yatra completes 63 days, the walkathon that started from Kanyakumari on September 7 is going strong

Nanded: As Rahul Gandhi’s much-talked-about Bharat Jodo Yatra completes 63 days, the walkathon that started from Kanyakumari on September 7 is going strong. The ambience is vibrant and colourful, with enthusiastic participants cheering, chanting slogans and playing patriotic songs. Music rends the air—apart from the music band that walks ahead of Gandhi, belting out songs, there are local folk artists embellishing the yatra with their own songs and dances.

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Apart from the willpower of the walkers accompanying Rahul, a team of 60 people works round the clock to keep this cavalcade going without interruption or impediment. Every day, the team—which includes professionals hired for the job—dismantles the camp after the yatris or participants have left for the day’s march and sets it up at again for the evening. About 60 containers provide accommodation and other basic facilities for the yatris, including Rahul Gandhi and over 50 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who are providing security to the Congress leader.

“All the sites where the yatra will halt have to be identified in advance by a team of 15 to 20 people. They visit the spot and see that it has enough space to set up the camp, which is around two acres,” said a Congress leader who is part of the inspection team. “The camp provides accommodation, toilet and laundry facilities and everything that yatris may require except food,” said Vaibhav Walia, secretary communications, All India Congress Committee (AICC). “The latter is arranged by the local Congress units.”

There are around 120 yatris who have been accompanying Gandhi from the start and will continue till Kashmir—all Congress workers, who were selected from every state in the country. From Maharashtra, eight yatris have been selected, of whom five are women party workers. After every eight days, the yatra is paused so that participants don’t get exhausted physically.

Yatris get up at 4 am, get ready and have breakfast. At 5.30 am, the tricolour is hoisted at the camp site, after which the march begins. The yatra halts for tea and then lunch at around 11 am. After lunch, the yatris rest for a while and resume again at 3 pm. The day concludes around 7 pm, explains Walia, adding that the participants consume fruit in between meals to get enough nutrition and ward off dehydration.

For Gandhi, however, the day doesn’t end then. After coming back to the camp site, he works out. “He does Aikido, a Japanese form of self-defence. He has been doing it for years and doesn’t want to break the habit,” said Walia.

“Today we have covered half the distance of the 3,570-km yatra and five states—Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana apart from Maharashtra. We have been walking for 22 km a day. Maharashtra has given extra vigour to us, and we have started walking for 24 km a day,” said Jairam Ramesh, senior Congress leader.

Women’s rights activist Varsha Deshpande has come from Satara to join the yatra along with a group of 25 people. “If rape and murder convicts are getting released, what is the use of laws against such offences?” she demanded. “Criminals will cease to be afraid of consequences. These people are killing us and every institution in the country.”

Members of Lokayat, a self-funded group of social activists, also joined the yatra for saving democratic rights in the country. Neeraj Jain, a writer and activist from the group, said the BJP was attacking the democratic rights of the people by handing everything over to a few corporate families. Rishikesh Yevlekar, a computer science lecturer from Pune, said there was a need of direct interaction to connect with the people, which Gandhi had begun doing. “What Rahul Gandhi is doing is the need of the hour,” he said.

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