NAGAMANGALA: A thunderous response awaited the Congress in JDS bastion Mandya, as the Bharat Jodo Yatra entered the Vokkaliga stronghold, resuming from TS Chatra in Pandavapura after a two-day break. Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi joining the march led by son Rahul Gandhi energised party workers, besides boosting the participation of veteran leaders, farmers, working classes, women and people from all walks of life.
Party veterans Mallikarjun Kharge, Digvijay Singh, Jairam Ramesh and others kept in step with Sonia, who despite her age and health constraints, marched energetically for more than 10km, inspiring Congress workers who thronged the area.
The rally, which began at Bellale in Pandavapura, saw more than 20,000 people walking for over 8.5km to reach Karadaya lake, where lunch was arranged for the participants. When the march resumed, they covered over 9 km to reach Bhramadevarahalli village to hold a street-corner meeting.
In the interim, Rahul Gandhi interacted with the farming community and families of farmers who had committed suicide in the recent past. Listening to their stories of agony, he assured them that the Congress would come out with long-term programmes and projects to benefit farmers, if it returns to power in Karnataka.
Mother and son marching together won the hearts of the people, and the villagers were full of praise for them. Mandya could give a fillip to the party’s fortunes, with a robust voter turnout in the upcoming elections.
People’s energy taking me along, says RaGa
Rahul Gandhi, who walked for over 25km on Thursday, said that a padayatra is not an easy task. Addressing a public gathering, he said that normally, a person who starts walking in the morning is fresh and as the evening draws, the person is tired. “But on this yatra, I have been noticing something quite strange -- as the day goes on, I get less and less tired and the last steps are easier. For some days, I was thinking about this. It was a mystery I couldn’t understand... why it was less tiring in the evening. Then, I realised that I was not using my own energy. I was using the energy of the people of Karnataka, which is why I feel less tired...” he said.
He said that just as a divided family cannot succeed, a country that is divided cannot succeed either. “Anybody who divides a family works against the interests of the family. In the same way, anybody who divides the country works against the interests of the country,” he said.
Rahul recounted that three women had wept and spoken to him about their husbands. “One of the women said her husband, a farmer, had taken a loan. One day, he went to the field and committed suicide. He had borrowed money at 24%... I was wondering what sort of country is this where the richest is allowed to borrow at 6% while a farmer has to borrow at 24%. How can it be that the second richest is an Indian, and the largest number of poor are Indians?” he asked.