Thoubal (Manipur) | Embarking on the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra from here, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said this was needed as the country was going through a period of "great injustice" and asserted that a vision of India based on equitability, brotherhood and harmony will emerge from the yatra.
This vision will emerge from dialogues during the yatra and it will have no place for hatred, violence and monopoly, he said and added that through this yatra, the Congress wants to listen to people's "Mann Ki Baat" and understand their pain.
Gandhi commenced the more than 6,700 km Manipur-to-Maharashtra yatra with a rally at a private ground here after offering tributes to martyrs of Manipur at the Khongjom War Memorial Complex.
With top Congress leaders on the dais, including party president Mallikarjun Kharge, Gandhi explained the reasons for taking out the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra after his Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir march -- Bharat Jodo Yatra -- that ended January last year.
"Question arises why Nyay Yatra? Because we are going through a period of great injustice in India -- social, economic and political injustice'. Injustice against the people of Manipur, the traditions of Manipur, but also injustice across the nation," he said.
In the economy, monopolies are being built and a few people are getting access to all the wealth of the country, he alleged.
"One or two businesses have their fingers in everything and the large majority of businesses, small and medium businesses are being destroyed. Huge levels of unemployment and massive price rise is what the whole of India is facing," Gandhi said.
"On the social side, the large mass of India's people -- the lower castes, Dalits and tribals -- simply do not have a say in the governance system of the country. I have given you example upon example of how the large mass of our people are excluded from the political system and from the governance system," the Congress leader said.
These are the issues that the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra is going to raise, "but this is less about us and more about you", he asserted.
Noting that during the Kanyakumari to Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra, they used to walk during the day and have a speech in the evening, Gandhi said the idea was to listen to farmers, labourers, small shopkeepers, women and youth.
This is the aim of this yatra (Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra) as well, he added.
"We do not want to speak much, we do not want to tell you our 'Mann Ki Baat'. We want to listen to your 'Mann Ki Baat', understand your pain," Gandhi said.
He said the party is going to present the next vision of India which is not of violence, hatred and monopoly, but a vision which is "harmonious, equitable and of brotherhood". "After listening to your voice, we are going to present that vision to India," he said.
Later in a post in Hindi on X, Gandhi said, "As a cry for justice, against the terrible injustice happening across the country, Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra has started from today. We are coming to listen to people, not to express our feelings. We are coming to understand the pain and suffering of the people and communicate with them."
"And from this grassroots dialogue will emerge the vision of building a peaceful, prosperous and powerful India. 'Vision of India' which is based on equality, brotherhood and harmony, in which there is no place for hatred, violence and monopoly," Gandhi asserted.
In his remarks at the rally, he also slammed the BJP-led Centre and state governments for the situation in Manipur.
He alleged that the people of Manipur lost what is precious to them because of the politics and ideology of the BJP and the "hatred that was spread" by the ruling party and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).
"We understand, all of us on the stage understand the pain that the people of Manipur have been through. We understand the hurt, the loss, the sadness that you have been through and we promise you, we commit to you that we will bring back what you valued. We will bring back the harmony, the peace, the affection that this state has always been known for," Gandhi asserted at the launch of the yatra.
"I came to Manipur on June 29 (last year) and during that visit, what I saw, what I heard, I had never seen or heard of it before. I have been in politics since 2004, for the first time I went to a state in India, where the entire governance infrastructure had collapsed. What we used to call Manipur, after June 29, it was no longer Manipur," he said.
Gandhi said it got divided, hatred had spread in every corner, lakhs of people suffered losses and people saw their brothers, sisters and parents die before their eyes.
But "till date the Prime Minister of India has not come to Manipur to wipe your tears, hug you, hold your hand... It is a shameful thing", Gandhi said.
"Perhaps for Narendra Modi ji, for the BJP and the RSS, Manipur is not a part of India at all. Your sorrow is your pain, it is not their sorrow or their pain," he said.
Gandhi recalled that earlier he had undertaken the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and walked 4,000 kilometers, talking about uniting India and eradicating hatred.
Interacted with lakhs of people during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, heard their pain, he said talking of that yatra and added that it was difficult, but felt very good.
"People said that if we have travelled from Kanyakumari to Kashmir then we should also travel from east to west and I wanted that just as we travelled on foot from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, in the same way we should travel on foot from east to west. But it is election time and it would have taken us more time. We decided that this would be a bus journey, a hybrid journey," Gandhi said.
After addressing the rally, Gandhi embarked on the Nyay yatra in a bus which was unveiled by Kharge.
Gandhi interacted with locals throughout the bus journey as people lined up across the route to greet the him.
The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will pass through 100 Lok Sabha constituencies in 15 states and the Congress believes it will prove to be as "transformative" as Gandhi's earlier cross-country march.
The current yatra will traverse 6,713 km, mostly in buses but also on foot. It will cover 110 districts in 67 days, before culminating in Mumbai on March 20 or 21.