The BJP believes in uniformity, whereas Congress stands for unity, says Jairam Ramesh

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Former Union Minister says the 150-day Bharat Jodo Yatra would have covered half of its total distance of 3,570 km when it reaches Nanded town on Thursday evening

Former Union Minister says the 150-day Bharat Jodo Yatra would have covered half of its total distance of 3,570 km when it reaches Nanded town on Thursday evening

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi started to have a direct conversation with the people across the country through Bharat Jodo Yatra since he was not allowed to speak in Parliament, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Wednesday.

“He [Mr. Gandhi] is shouted down when he stands to speak. The Speaker doesn’t give him time. He is a member of the Standing Committee on Defence but is not allowed to ask questions on China,” Mr. Ramesh said while addressing a press conference at Naigaon in Nanded district of Maharashtra, where the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra halted for an afternoon break.

The Congress leader said that the Bharat Jodo Yatra was not a “ chunav jeeto yatra (win polls journey)“ and that it started with an aim to unite the country against “divisive” politics. “We are getting an overwhelming response. People from all walks of life are walking with Mr. Gandhi to share their problems,” Mr. Ramesh said.

In a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio programme, he said, “Our yatra is not ‘ mann ki baat yatra’, but it is ‘ janata ki chinta’ — to understand the problems being faced by the public.”

He further said the BJP wants and believes in “uniformity” while the Congress party stands for “unity”.

“The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the BJP do not believe in ‘unity in diversity’, of which India is an example. They believe in uniformity, whereas we stand for unity,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Critics of Congress, who had opposed the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and stood with social activist Anna Hazare, are also taking part in the yatra, since the Congress is the only party which can take on the ruling BJP, he said.

“We are not worried about the impact of the yatra. Only time will decide, but it has re-energised the party organisation. It is a sanjeevini (life-giving medicine) for the Congress party. We are rediscovering the mass contact that we lost when we were in office,” Mr. Ramesh said.

He said that 150-day Bharat Jodo Yatra would have covered half of its total distance of 3,570 km when they reached Nanded town on Thursday evening.

Drawing a comparison between Mr. Gandhi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in their media interactions, Mr. Ramesh said that the former will address a press conference at Shegaon in Buldhana district at 1 p.m. on November 17, and it will be his sixth media interaction during the yatra, “while the Prime Minister, who is in power for eight years, hasn’t faced the media even once,” he said.

Nationalist Congress Party State president Jayant Patil, Lok Sabha MP Supriya Sule and MLA Jitendra Awhad will walk with Mr. Gandhi on Thursday, while Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray will join the yatra on Friday, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said.

Mr. Gandhi will address a public rally in Nanded on Thursday. Newly elected All India Congress Committee president Mallikarjun Kharge will join him. 

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