Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh will stay away from the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ of the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.
But in Jammu and Kashmir, there will be fierce opposition participation in this yatra.
Apart from three former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti has confirmed her strong participation in the march by tweeting. Another member of Gupkar Alliance, CPI’s MY Tarigami will also participate in it.
After completing the first stop till Delhi, a break has been taken for nine days in ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
The yatra, which will start again from the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on January 3, will reach Kashmir by the end of the month.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted, “I have been formally invited to join Rahul Gandhi ji’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kashmir today. Salute his indomitable courage and I believe It is my duty to stand with those who have the courage to challenge the fascist forces. Will join them in their march towards building a better India.”
Mehbooba Mufti claimed that the foundation of secularism has been damaged in the last seven-eight years.
She also praised Rahul Gandhi for paying tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“We salute Rahul Gandhi for launching the Bharat Jodo Yatra to unite India and strengthen and encourage secularism and brotherhood in the country,” She said.
She slammed the BJP-led central government for “weakening” and “breaking” the country’s secular foundation.
On Rahul Gandhi paying tribute to former PM Vajpayee, the PDP chief said, “It is a good gesture to pay respect to your opponents as well. It is the beauty of this country that even opponents are paid tribute. However, it is missing at the moment.”
Mehbooba paid tribute to Vajpayee on his birth anniversary and said that she always looked above politics.
Congress leader and MP KC Venugopal, who reached Jammu to finalize the preparations for the Bharat Jodo Yatra, said that when the yatra reaches here, Rahul Gandhi will unfurl the national flag in Kashmir.
He also confirmed the participation of Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Tarigami in the yatra.
National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah had announced their participation before the start of the yatra.
Farooq Abdullah said that when the yatra enters Lakhapur on the border of Jammu and Kashmir, it will be welcomed.
Later, Omar Abdullah said that when party president Farooq Abdullah announced participation, everyone in the party would participate.
In Uttar Pradesh, no major opposition party is likely to participate, although the Congress has extended invitations to the Samajwadi Party, Jayant Chaudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party.
Jayanta Chowdhary has already announced that he will skip the march citing prior engagements.
Former Congress ally Akhilesh Yadav, who has distanced himself from the party, is also unlikely to attend, although it is not clear whether he will send a representative.
Sources indicated that Mayawati has not responded officially, but the chances of her participation are also practically nil.
Despite the Congress’s repeated reiteration that the yatra is not meant as a platform to pitch the party’s front and center to the opposition ahead of the 2024 general elections, the notion of a political angle is difficult to dispel.
The absence of key opposition parties in the 3,750-km foot march has only underlined the multi-layered division in the camp.
Ahead of the 2019 elections, several parties, including the Trinamool Congress and Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, were seen as jockeying for the dominant position within the opposition.
Not only TRS not participate in the yatra this time, but the Congress targeted the ruling party in Telangana, saying that TRS and AIMIM are giving “oxygen and booster dose” to the BJP.
In Delhi, AAP’s appeal to the Center to implement Covid protocol for rallies was seen as a veiled attack on the Yatra.
In Punjab, state Congress leader Amarinder Singh Raja Waring accused the AAP and the BJP of targeting the Yatra, saying they felt threatened by the “overwhelming support in favor of the Congress” and using the pretext of Covid in China.