Rahul Gandhi reaches Nagaland with Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra

Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reached Nagaland on Monday evening.
Rahul Gandhi during Bharat Jodo Nyay yatra on Monday.
Rahul Gandhi during Bharat Jodo Nyay yatra on Monday.

Kohima | The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reached Nagaland on Monday evening.

Gandhi arrived along with his party colleagues in Khuzama village in Kohima district, bordering Manipur.

The Yatra was flagged off on Sunday by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge from Thoubal in Manipur.

People at Khuzama gave a rousing welcome to Gandhi and his team on their arrival. They will take a night halt at the village.

During his stay, Gandhi will hold a series of closed-door meetings with Naga tribal organisations, including Naga Hoho, civil society groups and church bodies on the issues and problems faced by them, state Congress working president Khriedi Theunuo said.

Gandhi will traverse through at least five districts of the state -- Kohima, Tseminyu, Wokha, Zunheboto and Mokokchung, holding rallies, before entering Assam on January 18, he said.

On Tuesday, he will commence the Nagaland leg of the Yatra from Viswema village and upon reaching the capital town, he will lay a wreath at the World War-II cemetery.

He will also address a public meeting at High School Junction before proceeding to other districts.

The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will pass through 100 Lok Sabha constituencies in 15 states. It will traverse 6,713 km, mostly in buses but also on foot, and culminate in Mumbai on March 20 or 21.

Declined invitation as it's political event: Congress on Ram temple consecration ceremony

Senapati (Manipur) | Ahead of the Ram temple consecration ceremony, the Congress on Monday said it is not an "atheist party" that it would oppose a temple or religious ritual, but had declined the invite as it is a "political" event.

The opposition party also alleged that the January 22 event is being held in a hurry because of the Lok Sabha polls.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury last week "respectfully declined" the invitation to attend the Ram temple consecration ceremony, with the party accusing the BJP-RSS of making it a "political project" for electoral gains.

Asked about it at a press conference here, party leader Kanhaiya Kumar said, "The Congress believes in sarvadharma sambhav (equal respect to all religions)."

"The Congress is not against any religion or religious event or sentiment. It believes in sarvadharma sambhav and this has been the case from the beginning. (Mahatma) Gandhiji also repeatedly stated this," he added.

As far as the invitation to the temple consecration ceremony is concerned, Kumar said someone goes to meet the god when the latter calls him.

"Is it a wedding that an invite is needed? Who are they to invite? When the god calls people, they go. We are bhakts (devotees). God is about personal faith and not a matter of display," he said.

"Everyone knows why are they (BJP-RSS) doing it. Anyone will tell you that this is being done in a hurry because of the election," Kumar alleged.

Hence, the Congress has "respectfully declined" the invite to the "political event" of January 22, he said.

"We will go to the temple, why won't we go? You will see that during this (Bharat Jodo Nyay) yatra itself, we will go to many temples. We will go to

temples, gurdwaras, churches, mosques. The Congress is not an atheist party that it will oppose a mandir or any religious ritual. It is a party of all religions and people from all religions," Kumar stressed.

Only the Congress can organise the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra because it is a party that belongs to everyone, he said.

The Congress leader said the debate should not be centred around the January 22 temple consecration ceremony as that is a "political event".

Hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress had said on Friday that the ruling party has made the Ram temple consecration ceremony an "out-and-out political event", which is being held without taking the advice of shankaracharyas and by disregarding religious procedures.

The opposition party had also said religion is a personal matter and anyone is free to go to Ayodhya for "darshan", but the invitation that was declined was for the January 22 event, which has been subjected to "massive politicisation".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and more than 6,000 people are expected to attend the January 22 consecration ceremony of the Ram temple.

The temple trust has also invited 4,000 seers from across the country and 50 guests from foreign countries.

The BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and affiliate Hindutva organisations, such as the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), have launched a nationwide mass connect programme in the run-up to the ceremony, urging people to visit the holy place after the event.

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