Uncertainty over top Oppn leaders’ presence at Congress event at culmination of Bharat Jodo Yatra | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Uncertainty over top Oppn leaders’ presence at Congress event at culmination of Bharat Jodo Yatra

Jan 28, 2023 12:39 AM IST

The Bharat Jodo Yatra will culminate on January 30 after covering over 3,600km since it started from Kanyakumari on September 7 last year. The Congress has planned a massive rally at the Sher-e Kashmir stadium

New Delhi An Opposition show of strength in a rally in Srinagar to mark the culmination of the Bharat Jodo Yatra may not include some of the prominent leaders from other parties as uncertainty remains over their participation, according to people aware of the matter.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, at Banihal in Ramban on Friday. (ANI)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, at Banihal in Ramban on Friday. (ANI)

The Bharat Jodo Yatra will culminate on January 30 after covering more than 3,600km since it started from Kanyakumari on September 7. The Congress has planned a massive rally at the Sher-e Kashmir stadium. On January 11, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge invited leaders from 24 Opposition parties for the event.

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Several of the leaders, however, are unlikely to attend, and some have indicated that they may depute local leaders or party colleagues.

On January 24, former Prime Minister and JD(S) MP HD Deve Gowda tweeted his inability to attend. “I was invited by Shri Mallikarjun @kharge to be part of the concluding meeting of the @bharatjodo yatra in Srinagar. I am unable to attend, but have conveyed my deep appreciation for the fete that @RahulGandhi has achieved by walking the length of the nation for harmony,” he said.

Similarly, the Trinamool Congress top brass is unlikely to attend the event. A senior leader of the party, which is trying to carve out its own space in the Opposition block, said: “Is the Yatra being led by the Congress president, or will Kharge ji be the key speaker at the event? No. Rahul Gandhi, an MP from Wayanad, will be the central attraction.” Asking not to be named, the leader suggested that the party would skip the event.

While the Congress extended the invitation to 24 “like-minded” parties, Trinamool’s parliamentary party leader in Rajya Sabha Derek O’Brian said, “All parties in the Opposition are like-minded parties. But within these like-minded parties, there are two distinct types of relationship: those who are not alliance partners with the Congress and those who are either running governments together or in alliance with the Congress such as DMK, Shiv Sena, Left, RJD, JDU. We are in the first category. Remember, 18 months ago Cong and Left took on us in Bengal.”

A Congress strategist involved in the Yatra said that while the CPI has confirmed its presence in the Srinagar rally, the CPI(M) is “unlikely to come”.

Although the CPI(M) has been a key ally of the Congress in Bengal elections and the two have now announced a pact for the Tripura polls, the Congress strategist added, “CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and the party’s local stalwart MA Tarigami have not send us any confirmation about the presence.”

On Thursday, the Janata Dal United or JD(U), a Congress ally in Bihar, expressed its inability to join the event.

“There are no two opinions that there is a decline in democratic values in the country and the constitutional institutions that are supposed to ensure checks and balances on unrestrained executive power are being systematically destroyed. Much as I would like to be present at the historical event, I regret my inability to do so as I need to be present at the launching of the party’s election campaign in Nagaland the same day”, JD(U) president Rajiv Ranjan (Lallan) Singh wrote to Kharge.

While inviting leaders from 24 parties, Kharge wrote: “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.”

He added: “From the beginning of the Yatra, we have invited the participation of every like-minded Indians. At the invitation of Shri Rahul Gandhi, MPs of several political parties have also walked in the Yatra at different stages... I now invite you to personally join the concluding function of the Bharat Jodo Yatra to be held in Srinagar on January 30th at noon.”

The Congress didn’t invite the AAP, BRS, BJD and YSRCP for the event.

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