A day after addressing a massive rally here, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday morning commenced the 3,570-km padyatra, which will go on for 150 days.
The yatra began from Agasteeswaram in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari with Rahul hoisting the flag at the campsite of Bharat Yatris, who will walk with him. Besides the Bharat Yatris, the Pradesh and Atithi yatris also walked along with him.
He was accompanied by several senior party leaders, including Digvijaya Singh, KC Venugopal, P Chidambaram, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Pawan Khera, and others.
In the first three hours on Thursday morning, the Congress leaders completed a distance of about 15 km. They then took a halt at Suchindram.
The SMSM HR Secondary School premises, where the Congress leader halted, was also visited in 1937 by Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagopalachari.
Rahul planted a sapling on the school campus with the soil and water brought from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He later also met the family of NEET aspirant, Anitha, who died by suicide, and expressed his condolences.
Commenting on the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Venugopal said, “Bharat Jodo Yatris are marching forward in full enthusiasm. People of Tamil Nadu are extending their support and blessings to Rahul Gandhi.”
Rahul on Thursday interacted with Dalit activists. “The aim of Bharat Jodo is to unite the people of this country irrespective of any caste or community barriers and this interaction was a promising step forward towards achieving that goal,” the Congress leader said in a tweet.
He also interacted with young minds at Jawahar Bal Manch en route to Bharat Jodo Yatra and added the vivacity and ardour of young imagination to the revolution through a painting competition themed around the yatra.
Sharing an image of himself with a child on his Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul said on Twitter in Hindi, “This is the foundation of the future of the country. This is the beginning of tomorrow… One your step, one my step, if we work together, we will unite our homeland.”
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh also took to Twitter and wrote, “Rahul Gandhi had three interactions with the civil society after the 13-km padayatra this morning. First with women activists, second with Dalit groups, and third with environmentalists. Representations were handed over. This pattern will continue every day on the Bharat Jodo Yatra.”
In Kanyakumari, people greeted the Congress leader and also showered flowers on him. Many local people assembled on both sides of the road, where Rahul waved at them and also shook hands with them. People greeted Rahul on the way and also exchanged notes with him.
Kanyakumari is a stronghold of the Congress with sitting MPs and three MLAs, who have put on a massive show for the yatra. The yatra will go on in Tamil Nadu for four days, from September 7 to 10. On September 11, the yatra will enter Kerala and reach Karnataka on September 30.
On Monday, Rahul addressed a public meeting in Kanyakumari and targeted the BJP and the RSS accusing them of dividing the country.