Key parties skip Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra finale
A supposed show-of-unity by opposition parties to mark the conclusion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra on Monday in Srinagar remained largely lacklustre.
A supposed show-of-unity by opposition parties to mark the conclusion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra on Monday in Srinagar remained largely lacklustre. Out of the 23 parties invited for the event, only nine attended. The absentees included trusted Congress allies such as Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Two prominent Jammu and Kashmir-based parties, the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), took part. Other parties that attended the rally were Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Communist Party of India (CPI), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK).
The Congress, however, didn’t release the list of the parties that attended the concluding event at the She-e-Kashmir stadium.
On January 11, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had invited 23 like-minded political parties for the Srinagar event. “At this event, we will commit ourselves to fighting hatred and violence, to spread the message of truth, compassion and non-violence and defend the constitutional values of liberty, equality, fraternity and justice for all. At this time of crisis of our country, where public attention is systematically diverted from people’s issues, the Yatra has emerged as a powerful voice. I hope you will participate and further strengthen its message,” Kharge wrote to the opposition party chiefs.
The 23 parties invited for the event included the Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena, Telugu Desam Party, NC, Samajwadi Party, BSP, CPI, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, RJD, RLSP, HAM, PDP, NCP, DMK, Kerala Congress (M), MDMK, VCK, RLD, IUML, RSP, JD(S).
The JD(S) and JD(U) had informed Kharge that they will not be able to come. The Congress leaders tried hard to bring CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, but he too declined, citing reservations of the Kerala unit of the Congress. CPI general secretary D Raja attended the event. RSP leader NK Premachandran, too, was present.
Two former J&K chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, attended. Addressing the crowd, Mufti said that the nation could see a ray of hope in Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. The PDP had a brief alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“Rahul, you said you’ve come to Kashmir, your home. I hope what the Godse ideology snatched from J&K and from this nation, Gandhi will restore it,” Mufti said in her brief address. “Gandhi ji said he can see a ray of hope in J&K. Today, the nation can see a ray of hope in Rahul Gandhi.”
In his speech, former NC leader Omar Abdullah asked Gandhi to undertake a East-to-West march, which is under consideration at the Congress. Abdullah also emphasised that the Bharat Jodo Yatra has highlighted that there are Indians who believe in brotherhood. He also promised to walk with Gandhi in the next phase of the yatra, as he did in some parts of Kashmir.