The Congress launched a UP Jodo Yatra from the town of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, an attempt to stay relevant in the politically pivotal state of India.
In its first phase, the Yatra will be held in 11 districts in the state’s western and central regions, covering a total of 15 Lok Sabha seats. It will pass through Bijnore, Amroha, Moradabad, Rampur, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Muzaffarnagar, etc., before arriving at Sitapur.
In an indication that the grand old party would be adopting a soft Hindutva stance, UP Congress president Ajay Rai launched the Yatra after offering prayers at the Shakambhari Devi Temple in Saharanpur. This was in response to the BJP’s frequently made accusations that the party was anti-Hindu.
While the Congress leaders claimed that the Yatra is intended to “expose” the BJP’s “anti-people” and “communal” politics, it is also intended to persuade the Samajwadi Party (SP) to grant the state’s Congress additional seats in the 2024 legislative session polls.
The party leaders will visit Naimisharanya, a well-known Hindu pilgrimage in the Sitapur district, during the Yatra, and offer “chadar” at the “mazar” (tomb) of the renowned Sufi saint Hazrat Qutube Alam in Gangoh, claimed a media report.
“Muslims have been traditionally our supporters….they know that Congress is the only party which can take on the BJP at national level,” a senior UP Congress leader was quoted as saying.
Congress leaders planned to meet prominent Muslim clerics and other community leaders to convince them to endorse the party in the upcoming LS polls, which are scheduled for 2024.
Rai was bullish about Congress’s chances in the next LS polls. “We won Telangana and though we lost in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, we remain a force there,” the UP Congress president said.