NEW DELHI: The Congress will celebrate Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary on Wednesday by organising 'padayatras' across the country, with party leader Rahul Gandhi joining the foot march in the national capital.
The party has planned a week-long program that will mark the culmination of the year-long celebrations commemorating Gandhi's memory and it will re-emphasize his values.
The programme will be undertaken by the AICC in Delhi and by the PCCs in their state capitals.
It will be followed by district and block Congress committees across the country.
In Delhi, the party will be out in full force on Wednesday guided by the Gandhian ideals to take on this government that they term "oppressive".
The celebrations are turning out to be a game of one-upmanship between the Congress and the BJP as both are organising foot marches across the country in their bid to cash in on his legacy.
Senior Congress leaders and workers will assemble at 9:30 am at the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee office at DDU Marg and will then walk towards Rajghat to pay homage to Gandhi as his favourite 'bhajan' "Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram" plays.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will thereafter administer the oath to leaders and workers to redeem 'Gandhi, Gandhism and Gandhi's India'.
Rahul Gandhi will join the 'padayatra' in Delhi.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is likely to participate in the foot march in Lucknow to commemorate the birth anniversary.
Congress general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal said, "In a strife-torn world, as indeed India, Gandhi ji and his philosophy is more relevant than ever today."
He said as the ideological anchor of the country, "Mahatma Gandhi's legacy of non-violence, co-existence, compassion, truth, environmental sustainability and economic self-reliance have not only shaped our nationhood but those of many across the world".
Venugopal said that though it took them more than 50 years, some political parties and disparate ideological proponents seem to have realized the importance of Gandhi, his philosophies and teachings today.
"It is a welcome step on their part, amounting to penance and should not be criticized. The question is how much of it is real or posturing? Whether it's misappropriation purely for political benefits or there is a real change of heart, will be seen in future," he said in a statement.
"The BJP and its government have done everything contrary to the Gandhian teachings and whatever the Mahatma stood for. Barring high sounding schemes surrounding orchestrated events that aim only at electoral benefits, the very grain of this government is anti-poor, disadvantaged and the oppressed," Venugopal claimed.
He alleged that atrocities on SC/STs and the deprived have risen and are continuing unabated.
The Congress leader alleged that the massive loan write-offs and recapitalization exercises are aimed mainly at benefiting large crony corporates and economic policies are driven towards providing relief to owners rather than the workers.
The NCRB data, he alleged, is hidden because it will reveal the numbers of farmers' suicides, while sugarcane farmers are agitating on roads for their rightful dues.
Hunger deaths caused in name of effective governance are masked by government officials as unnatural deaths, he alleged.
"Lynching criminals get bail and rape victims are jailed and killed. Joblessness has become so rampant that fathers are killing their children because they can't afford the school fees. However, our government pretends everything is fine," the Congress leader alleged.
"Institutions are crumbling. The EC is acting as a subordinate government department commuting sentences awarded by the court. Code of conduct is not coming into effect even when polls have been announced in Karnataka. Agencies are used to cow down opponents. These are some of the new normals that the present government has created as a benchmark in the land of Gandhi," Venugopal alleged.