"I have opened the shop of love in the marketplace of hatred." This line has been echoing throughout the Congress outreach programme, which commenced from Kanyakumari and ends at Srinagar on January 23. But the Congress is not planning to sit back after the Yatra comes officially to an end.
On January 26, the party will start the 'Haath Se Haath Jodo Abhiyan', which will continue for the next two months. To make it a success, the party has not left any stone unturned, appointing senior leaders to oversee the programme in each state.
Buoyed with the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Congress is also planning to reach every voter through booth level convention. Senior functionaries of the party will be attending the programmes, and the party has deputed Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to lead the all-women march and there is work in progress on this. The party's 'haath jodo' programme will start from January 26 and the Congress programme will be telecast live on giant screens and will be shown at important places across each state.
Priyanka will lead an all-women march in each state capital and read out a 'women's manifesto' as the Congress gears up to take the Bharat Jodo Yatra to booth level. The party has started its preparatory meetings for this at the state level and then district and block level.
The party has reached out to like-minded leaders to join the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Some have already joined and some have agreed to join like Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah. The party activists will distribute letters written by Rahul Gandhi and a charge sheet against the BJP government to every person.
After the yatra, a block level convention will be held in each district to be attended by the state president and senior state Congress leaders.
Congress General Secretary K.C. Venugopal said: "The Bharat Jodo Yatra has become a movement, you people know about that. Lakhs of people are participating in this yatra every day. Starting from Kanyakumari, till today, crores of people have participated."
Venugopal added: "Apart from Congress leaders, general people enthusiastically participated in the yatra ... their involvement is huge in this yatra, which will resume form January 3."
The party general secretary also said as this yatra emerged as a greatest movement in this country, a proper follow-up is needed, and that is why, the Congress Steering Committee decided for a 'Haath Se Haath Jodo Abhiyan' from January 26 onwards.
This, he said, will be a two-month massive campaign at the grassroots level. Two months of continuous padyatra will be there at the block level under the leadership of senior leaders, while state units will assign two leaders for each block to conduct the yatra.
The yatra will be undertaken by the leadership of the Block Congress Committee, but two leaders deputed by the state unit will be there to lead the yatra.
Along with this yatra, there will be village-level sabhas, and interaction with influential people in the villages and massive district level workers' convention. Then, the culmination of this yatra will happen with a massive rally in the state capital, in which Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge or Rahul Gandhi will participate, he said.
The party is saying that the critics now accept that the yatra is successful. The BJP's alliance partner in Haryana, Dushyant Chautala, too has been heard praising the kind of effort Rahul Gandhi is putting in the Yatra. Ramdev also praised the Gandhi scion for taking up 3,570-km yatra.
The former Congress President Rahul Gandhi seems to enjoy the show as donning a T shirt in chilly Delhi winter he attacked the BJP and said that they are fanning hatred and divisiveness but the Congress will not allow it.
Rahul Gandhi in Alwar also recited a poem by Makhdoom Mohiuddin -- "Hayat leke chalo kainat le ke chalo, chalo to sare zamane ko saath le ke chalo" -- and said that this is how he is taking everyone along.