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The Yatra, which started on September 7, completed its Maharashtra leg and entered the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh yesterday. Today, Congress supporters led by the Gandhis started the march from Borgaon in Khandwa. They will visit the birthplace of Tantia Bheel, freedom fighter and tribal icon, before proceeding to Khargone.
As the Congress tries to reach out to the tribal community, the BJP has a counter ready. The ruling party has launched the Janjatiya Gaurav Yatra from Tantya Bhee's birthplace yesterday. The start of the march was attended by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and four ministers.
Yesterday, Mr Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the BJP, accusing the party of bribing MLAs to bring down the Kamal Nath-led Congress government after the party's win in the 2018 state polls. "We won the election in Madhya Pradesh. But they paid crores to 20-25 corrupt MLAs and bought them," he said in Burhanpur.
He went on to say that the Congress was forced to launch the Bharat Jodo Yatra because the "all democratic avenues are shut" under the BJP-led central government. "The Lok Sabha, the electoral route, the press -- everything is closed. All the institutions -- the RSS/BJP have cornered them, filled them with their own men. The judiciary is under pressure. So we thought there is only one option. Hit the road, embrace the people, listen to the farmers, listen to the labourers, the small traders, and join them," he added.
The yatra, he said, has three goals. "Firstly, this is against the hatred, violence and fear that is being spread in India. Secondly, it is against unemployment. And thirdly, it is against inflation," he said.
The 3570-km march from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu to Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, a desperate attempt by the Congress to rally support for the 2024 general election, as will pass through five Lok Sabha seats and 26 Assembly segments in Madhya Pradesh. Most of these are held by the BJP.
Sharing a picture of the Gandhi siblings, the Congress' official handle tweeted in Hindi, "Our steps will be stronger when we walk together." Top Madhya Pradesh Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh also joined the yatra.
BJP leaders in the state have denied that their yatra is aimed at countering the Congress march. "Unlike Congress, we don't embark on yatra only ahead of elections. Our rally was planned well in advance," said Ram Dangore, a BJP MLA from Pandhana.
The Rahul Gandhi-led yatra will enter Rajasthan next, where major trouble in brewing for the Congress. The factional feud between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and top Congress leader Sachin Pilot, who led a rebellion in 2020 that almost brought down the government, has reached crisis point again.
A community outfit has threatened to disrupt the yatra if Mr Pilot is not appointed Rajasthan Chief Minister. The Congress leader, however, has distanced himself from a threat and accused the BJP of trying to create "disturbances".
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