Farooq, Mehbooba, Omar to join Bharat Jodo Yatra in J&K: Congress
The J&K leg of the yatra perhaps carries more importance than a few other states for the Congress. The foot march that started from Kanyakumari on September 8 will culminate in J&K.
Three former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir -- Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti -- on Tuesday agreed to join the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, providing a fillip to the foot march before it arrives in the Union Territory on January 22.
After chairing a meeting in Srinagar for the upcoming J&K leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra , Congress general secretary KC Venugopal announced that the three former chief ministers will participate in the foot march once it enters the Union Territory. Former Communist Party of India (Marxist) lawmaker and Gupkar Alliance spokesperson Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, too, will participate in the yatra.
“We’ll hoist the national flag in Kashmir... NC leaders Farooq Abdullah & Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti & CPM leader MY Tarigami will join the yatra,” said Venugopal.
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The J&K leg of the yatra perhaps carries more importance than a few other states for the Congress. The foot march that started from Kanyakumari on September 8 will culminate in J&K. It will be a test for the Congress after its tallest leader from J&K, Ghulam Nabi Azad, quit the party in August to form an outfit called the Democratic Azad Party. Many leaders feel the yatra is an opportunity to revive the party that had won 12 out of 87 assembly seats in the 2014 state polls.
Venugopal, one of the key organisers of the yatra, KB Byju and others met J&K lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha on Monday and apprised him about their plan. “We had a very good meeting with the lieutenant governor and he offered cooperation for this yatra,” Venugopal said.
The Congress is planning a big rally in Banihal before the foot march enters the Kashmir Valley. However, security of the yatra remains the main concern for security agencies as it will have to pass through the national highway that had seen many attacks in the past.
“We came to Jammu and Kashmir to review the Bharat Jodo yatra preparations. Yesterday we had an interaction with Jammu people. Today we had a meeting with Kashmir people for the preparation for the yatra. It is going to be a great programme throughout Jammu and Kashmir,” Venugopal said, flanked by top Congress leaders of J&K.
The next leg of the march will start on January 3 from Loni in Uttar Pradesh. The yatra will spend three days, including night halts, in Baghpat and Shamli in Uttar Pradesh before returning to Haryana on January 6. The yatra will spend five days in Haryana, and on January 11, it will enter Punjab. The Punjab leg of the yatra will continue till January 19 before entering J&K.
Suhail Bukhari, chief spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, confirmed the participation of PDP president Mufti in Bharat Jodo Yatra. “Yes, she will be participating in the yatra,” Bukhari said.
National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said last week that party chief Farooq Abdullah has already said he will go to Lakhanpur to welcome Rahul Gandhi when he enters J&K. “Farooq sahib will also walk along with Rahul Gandhi for some distance,” he had said.
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“This yatra is aimed to strengthen the core idea of this country which is secularism,” National Conference spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said. “It’s a clear and a simple message to those who are playing politics of hate and polarisation that this country will oppose them tooth and nail.”
Reacting to the development, BJP national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said: “It is BJP’s accomplishment that Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah, are appreciating the yatra. We should remember that Mufti said that no one will raise the tricolour if Article 370 is removed, and today she is also participating in the yatra. So, if those who were once speaking against the country are raising tricolours, it is definitely BJP’s accomplishment.”