Kanyakumari, September 8
About 230 Congress ‘padyatris’ participating in the party’s ambitious ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ will spend their nights in 60 containers mounted on trucks that will be moved daily from one place to another, party general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Thursday.
As former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and scores of party workers began the 3,570-km campaign from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, Ramesh told reporters after the morning session of the Yatra that in the containers, which will be stationed every night at temporary campsites of about two acres, there is no facility for having food or meetings.
“There is no TV inside, there is a fan,” he said, adding that the facilities of having food are provided in campsites.
The 119 “Bharat Yatris”, including Rahul Gandhi, who will walk the entire distance of 3,570 km, along with some “Atithi Yatris”, will be staying in the containers, Ramesh said.
“We are staying in the containers since yesterday. There are 60 containers in which about 230 people stay. Every day the containers will move to a new site mounted on trucks. Some are two-bed containers, some are four-bed, some six-bed and some 12-bed,” Ramesh said.
Rahul Gandhi is also staying in the container since Wednesday night, he said.
Bharat Jodo Yatra organising panel chief Digvijaya Singh said the containers are like railway sleeper compartment.
Asked if there is an air conditioner in the containers, Singh said there is no need of AC in such weather.
Elaborating on the containers, Ramesh said they are mounted on TATA trucks that are from Mumbai. “They are from a private company that is not undertaken by Adani,” he said, adding there will be mobile toilets for the yatris at the campsites.
Singh also said that it has been decided that from places where Yatra is not passing, water and soil will be brought and 5-10 saplings will be planted by Rahul Gandhi at various places where the Yatra will halt.
On Thursday, Gandhi planted saplings at the 101-year-old SMSM higher secondary school where the Congress yatris halted between the morning and evening session.
Incidentally, Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagopalachari had also visited the school in 1937. Mahatma Gandhi had also signed the visitors’ book in Hindi and Tamil.
After the evening session of the Yatra, Ramesh tweeted, “We have just completed Day 1 of Bharat Jodo Yatra. Bharat Yatris walked about 20 kms. It’s a great beginning for the first day.” “The crowds have been huge and their enthusiasm is visible. Headlinejeevi will do a lot to distract attention but only those who walk the talk count!” he said.
At the school, Rahul Gandhi had three interactions with civil society after the 13 km padayatra this morning.
First was with women activists, second with Dalit groups and third with environmentalists. During the interactions, representations were handed over.
This pattern will continue every day of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Ramesh said.
He said the yatris will halt in Scott Christian College on Thursday night.
Singh said the food at the camp sites and during the ‘padyatra’ is being arranged by the party’s state units.
He said that on everyday of the Yatra the flag will be saluted and there will be a rendition of Vande Matram and national anthem.
The Yatra formation would include Seva Dal flag contingent in front, then ‘Bharat Yatris’, and followed by state and other yatris as well as civil society members.
Ramesh also alleged that the party’s state level coordinator who wanted to visit Lakshadweep was not allowed to do so by administrator Praful Patel who was a BJP minister in Gujarat earlier.
The Bharat Yatris have also been issued standard khadi bags, which have a water bottle, an umbrella and a pair of T-shirts.
The march will cover 12 states and two Union territories in 150 days.
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