New Delhi/Pandavapura (Karnataka): Congress president Sonia Gandhi, making a public appearance after a long gap, on Thursday participated in the party’s much-hyped Bharat Jodo Yatra for the first time. She joined the march in Mandya district, where she walked for a bit, surrounded by a big crowd of slogan-shouting party workers. The yatra began in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari on September 7, and entered Karnataka on September 30. The Congress tweeted a photo of Rahul Gandhi tying his mother’s shoelaces during the walk, and captioned it “Ma” (mother). The happy images of the mother and son walking together filled social media spaces through the day. Mr Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “We have sailed through storms in the past and today too we will break the limits of all challenges and will together unite India.” He also posted a photograph of him walking with his mother, his arm around her.
The picture prompted Congress leader Shashi Tharoor to put out a post in Hindi, which said: “There are blessings even when she breathes, no one can replace a mother as mothers are mothers.”
The 75-year-old Congress president walked for around half an hour. She was due to walk for a short distance but went on for longer and refused to turn back. Mrs Gandhi later left for New Delhi in the evening.
At one point, the Congress president was seen walking with a small child who held on to Rahul Gandhi’s hand. At another, a young girl, her hair braided with flowers, crossed a rope barricade to meet the two top Congress leaders.
This is the first time Sonia Gandhi has joined a public event after recovering from Covid-19 earlier this year. The last time she participated in a roadshow was in August 2016 in Varanasi where she sustained a shoulder injury and later underwent a surgery. The Congress president had contracted Covid-19 twice and was also hospitalised. These are the last few days of Mrs Sonia Gandhi as Congress president, as the party’s internal elections will be held soon and a new party chief will be elected.
Speaking to reporters, Karnataka Congress chief D.K. Shivakumar said: “After Vijaya Dashami, there will be vijaya (victory) in Karnataka. We are proud that Sonia Gandhi has come to walk on the streets of Karnataka. We are coming to power in the state, and the BJP is on its way to shutting its shop.” Mrs Gandhi’s presence appeared to galvanise those participating in the yatra and bystanders alike, with security personnel having a tough time controlling the crowds that jostled to get a glimpse of the Congress president.
Congress’ communications chief Jairam Ramesh, who is also walking with the yatra, said: “Congress president Sonia Gandhi walked with @RahulGandhi & padayatris between Jakkanahalli & Karadya in Mandya district. Her programme was for only 30 mins. She stayed with #BharatJodoYatra for two hours, energised by support of people of Karnataka & in turn strengthening our resolve.”
Mrs Gandhi had arrived in Mysuru on Monday and offered prayers at a temple in the H.D. Kote Assembly segment on Wednesday on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami. AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also scheduled to reach Mysuru in the coming days and take part in the yatra.
The 3,570-km Bharat Jodo Yatra began from Kanyakumari on September 7. The yatra has so far covered 600 km across the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The yatra will continue for 150 days and will end in Kashmir....