From Chandra Shekhar to Rahul, road politicians took to capture people\'s imagination

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh undertook Narmada Parikrama\' from Barman ghat in Narsinghpur district, situated on the banks of Narmada

Srinagar: As the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra culminates here on Monday after a 145-day journey through 12 states and two Union territories, here is a chronology of noteworthy foot marches political leaders in India undertook in recent decades:

1983, Chandra Shekhar's Bharat Yatra: Nearly four decades ago, former prime minister and then Janata Party leader embarked upon a padyatra from Kanyakumari, from where the Congress' Bharat Jodo Yatra also began on September 8 last year after a launch event a day earlier.

Monikers such as the 'Marathon man' were given to Chandra Shekhar when six months after he began on January 6, 1983, the yatra reached New Delhi. His stature and the traction to the yatra went on rising as he passed village after village during his march for connecting with the people.

Though observers regard the padayatra as largely a success, dramatic political developments such as Indira Gandhi's assassination diluted its impact in the 1984 elections, which were swept by Rajiv Gandhi.

1985, Congress Sandesh Yatra was announced by the then prime minister and Congress president Rajiv Gandhi at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) plenary in Mumbai. The All India Congress Seva Dal carried it out across India.

Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) and Congress leaders carried out the yatra as four simultaneous journeys from Mumbai, Kashmir, Kanyakumari and the Northeast. The yatra concluded at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan after over three months.

1990, Rath Yatra led by Lal Krishna Advani: The Rath Yatra was taken out to give momentum to the Ram Temple movement in Ayodhya. The yatra that started in September 1990 was to cover 10,000 km and culminate in Ayodhya on October 30.

It was halted in Samastipur in north Bihar and Advani was arrested.

Political analysts feel the Rath Yatra gave a fillip to the BJP's electoral and ideological reach. As the demand for the temple gained momentum, the BJP's electoral fortunes also soared high.

1990, Congress' Sadbhavana Yatra: It was started by Rajiv Gandhi on October 19, 1990. Interestingly, on November 1, Rahul Gandhi unfurled the tricolour during the Bharat Jodo Yatra at the iconic Charminar at the same place from where Rajiv Gandhi started the 'Sadbhavna Yatra'.

1991, Ekta Yatra: This yatra was led by then BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi and sought to highlight the BJP's support to national unity and its opposition to separatist movements. It began in December in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu and covered 14 states. It was seen as a follow-up to Advani's Rath Yatra to further boost the BJP's electoral fortunes.

The yatra culminated with Joshi getting airlifted to Srinagar and unfurling the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on January 26, 1992. According to political analysts, it was considered to have minimal success as not many locals participated.

The Ekta Yatra was replicated by the party in 2011 when it held a 14-day yatra from Kolkata to Kashmir's Lal Chowk to unfurl the national flag in the Valley.

2003, April: Congress leader Y S Rajasekhar Reddy had undertaken a 1,400-km padyatra in Andhra Pradesh. He led the Congress to a resounding victory a year later, defeating the incumbent Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

2004, BJP's Bharat Uday Yatra: Advani's Bharat Uday Yatra highlighted India's achievements under the reign of then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It did not pay the expected electoral dividend as the BJP suffered defeat in Lok Sabha polls and the UPA-I came to power.

2017, Yatra by YSRCP chief Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy: In the run-up to the April 2019 Andhra Pradesh assembly elections, YSRCP chief Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy undertook a massive Praja Sankalpa Yatra starting in 2017, covering over 3,500 km by foot across the state.

2017, Narmada Parikrama Yatra: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh undertook the Narmada Parikrama' from the Barman ghat in Narsinghpur district, situated on the banks of the Narmada.

Though Singh maintained that the 3,000-plus-km Narmada Parikarma was entirely a spiritual exercise, many observers said its political implications were evident and it contributed to the success of the party in 2019 assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh.

2021, BJP's Jan Ashirwad Yatra: The BJP launched a five-day Jan Ashirwad Yatra in August last year as part of which 39 Union ministers were sent to cover 22 states. The ministers undertook the Jan Ashirwad Yatras to cover 212 Lok Sabha constituencies and travel over 19,567 km to reach out to people and tell them about the government's achievements.

September 2022-January 30, 2023: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, along with several party leaders, embarked on the Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari, marking the beginning of a challenging journey through which the party sought to reach out to people and rejuvenate its organization.

( Source : PTI )
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