KISHANGANJ: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' on Monday entered Bihar through Kishanganj.
The Yatra comes a day after the Congress was left high and dry with former ally Nitish Kumar, the Bihar chief minister, making a return to the BJP-led NDA.
Kishanganj, a district in the Seemanchal region of the state with a majority Muslim population, is also a party stronghold.
State Congress president Akhilesh Prasad Singh and other senior party leaders welcomed Gandhi in Bihar.
This is his first visit to the state since the assembly poll campaign of 2020.
Gandhi is scheduled to address a public meeting in Kishanganj and a big rally in the adjoining district of Purnea on Tuesday and another one in Katihar a day later, according to Congress legislature party leader Shakil Ahmed Khan.
He will be leaving for West Bengal on Thursday through Araria district and will return to Bihar a few days later via Jharkhand, Bihar Congress president Akhilesh Prasad Singh said.
According to leaders of the state Congress, the party's alliance partners in Bihar like RJD president Lalu Prasad and CPI(ML)-L general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya have been invited to the rally at Purnea.
Nitish Kumar, the JD(U) president with whom the Congress had shared power till he did a volte-face, was also extended an invitation which had been accepted by the veteran leader, the Congress claimed.
As per information from Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, the Yatra will be entering the state of Bihar today.
The Congress leader, while speaking to ANI at Siliguri, said, "From here we are going to Kishanganj and there will be a flag handover at the Ashafakullah Khan Stadium in Kishanganj. We will be staying in Araria tonight. From Kishanganj, we will be going to Purnia and then to Araria."
"The day after tomorrow, i.e., on January 31, we will be entering Jharkhand. We will be holding a public rally in Jharkhand on February 5 or 6 where the Congress President (Mallikarjun Kharge) is also expected to join us," he said.
The Congress leader also expressed his astonishment at the turnout witnessed by the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jalpaiguri and Siliguri.
"The 'padyatra' that took place in Jalpaiguri was 2 km and 2 km in Siliguri. We did not expect that such a huge number of women, young, elderly and children would come out on the streets and stand on rooftops and balconies, welcoming the Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra. I am not saying that all these people will vote for us, but the response had so much energy. There was so much excitement," said Jairam Ramesh.
The Congress leader said that he is happy to see Congress' position in Jalpaiguri and Siliguri.
"This has been our Congress stronghold for years, but we have become somewhat weak. There is also a Hamro Party from Darjeeling; they have said that they will support Congress and the INDIA alliance, so this is a positive trend for us," said the congress leader.
The Yatra travelled to Chopra and will go to Islampur where Gandhi is scheduled to address a small gathering before entering Kishanganj in Bihar, a party leader said.
Rahul ji spent the night at Sonapur and started the journey around 8 am from here.
He is now at Islampur and is likely to address a small gathering.
He will be going to Kishanganj, the party leader told PTI.
Party supporters and enthusiasts were seen greeting the Congress leader who was in a vehicle with a tight security cordon around the convoy.
The Yatra, which began in Manipur on January 14, entered West Bengal from Assam on Thursday morning and took a two-day break, during which Gandhi returned to New Delhi.
It is scheduled to re-enter West Bengal on January 31 via Malda and then after travelling through Murshidabad, it will leave the state on February 1.
The Yatra is scheduled to travel 6,713 km over 67 days, traversing 110 districts across 15 states before culminating in Mumbai on March 20 or 21.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI)