Guwahati | As the 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' completed its run in Assam on Thursday, the eight-day journey remained very eventful with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi locking horns with Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Although the 'Nyay Yatra' or justice march got its high decibel publicity after Gandhi termed Sarma "the most corrupt CM of India", it faced hurdles even before the actual programme began when permissions for two public grounds for night halts in Jorhat and Dhemaji were cancelled.
The Congress utilised this fully and levelled allegations of "undemocratic attitude" of the BJP-led Assam government, and arranged private grounds for the purposes.
The 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' was marked with high drama when Gandhi was prohibited to proceed towards the birthplace of iconic Vaishnav saint Srimanta Sankardeva in Assam's Nagaon district on the day when the consecration ceremony of Ram temple took place.
Gandhi, as soon as he entered Assam from Nagaland on January 18, slammed the ruling dispensation and alleged that the state perhaps has the "most corrupt government" and the "most corrupt CM" in the country, which prompted Sarma to launch a counter-attack within hours by terming the Gandhi family "the most corrupt" one in the country.
"Perhaps, the most corrupt government in India is in Assam. You know what is happening here... Corruption is rampant in Assam. We all know that perhaps the most corrupt CM in India is the Assam chief minister," Gandhi said in two public meetings in Sivasagar and Jorhat.
In another public address at Jorhat town, Gandhi alleged Sarma's entire family is involved in corruption. "His children, himself and wife -- all are involved in some corruption. He thinks that money can buy the people of Assam because he can be purchased.
Sarma later in the day termed the Gandhi family "the most corrupt" one in the country. "According to me, the Gandhi family is the most corrupt family in the country.
"They are not only corrupt, but also duplicate. Their family name is not
even Gandhi, (but) they are carrying their duplicate names. I can catch if someone carries a duplicate licence, but I don't know what happens if one carries a duplicate title. That is why they are roaming," he added.
This set the pitch for the next seven days, as numerous FIRs were filed against Gandhi and other Congress leaders at different police stations. Assam Congress chief was assaulted leading to facial injury, attacks on Yatra vehicles, tearing apart posters and hoardings and a crowd shouting Jai Sri Ram slogans coming "dangerously close" to the Wayanad MP.
An FIR was registered on the first day itself against the 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' and its organisers like KB Byju, Assam Congress Chief Bhupen Kumar Borah and others for allegedly deviating from its permitted route inside Jorhat town, leading to a "chaotic situation" in the area.
The Jorhat Police has already issued notices to the accused persons named in the FIR and asked them to present themselves before it on January 31.
Congress workers were assaulted, their vehicles damaged and all Yatra hoardings and posters destroyed by miscreants in North Lakhimpur town, the district headquarters of Lakhimpur, on January 20, alleged senior party leaders.
On January 21, Borah was punched by unknown men, which left him bleeding from his nose, while in another incident the party's central leader Jairam Ramesh's car was also attacked in Sonitpur district.
Ramesh posted on X about the attack, claiming that "an unruly BJP crowd" tore off Yatra stickers from the windshield, threw water and shouted anti-Yatra slogans.
On the fifth day of Yatra in Assam, Gandhi was barred from visiting Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva's birthplace -- Batadrava Thaan -- in Bardowa. He sat on the road, sang bhajans with artistes and argued with police officials, who surprisingly allowed other Congress leaders to visit the sacred place.
However, the flashpoint reached Guwahati when Congress workers in the presence of Gandhi and other leaders broke police barricades, which were put up after Sarma threatened to file an FIR if the Yatra attempted to enter the main city.
The party workers clashed with police, who used mild lathicharge to control the situation. Several police personnel and party workers were injured in the scuffle.
After dismantling the barrier, the Congress workers, however, did not proceed further with Gandhi stating that they "can break barricades, but will not break law" and moved through its permitted route along the NH-27 in Guwahati.
This episode forced the chief minister to term the action as "Naxalite" style and instructed the police to register a case. The Guwahati Police lodged a suo motu FIR against Gandhi and other leaders for "wanton acts of violence".
Sarma even announced that the "instigators", including Gandhi, will be arrested after the Lok Sabha polls as he does not want to "politicise" the issue before the general elections.
On the penultimate day, Gandhi in the home turf of AIUDF MP Badruddin Ajmal termed him and his party as the "B team" of BJP and alleged that both help each other during elections.
The series of incidents led to Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge to write a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah alleging the Assam Police remaining mute spectators and requesting proper security during the Yatra.
The Yatra, led by Rahul Gandhi commenced from Manipur on January 14 and will culminate on March 20 in Mumbai.
The Assam leg of the march, which started on January 18 and concluded on Thursday, travelled 833 km in 17 districts.
The Yatra plans to cover 6,713 km in 67 days while passing through 110 districts in 15 states.