Thoubal | Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday embarked on the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra from here in Manipur with a promise to bring peace and harmony in the ethnic violence-hit state.
The violence that broke out in the northeastern state in May last year has claimed more than 180 lives and rendered thousands homeless.
Addressing a public meeting in Thoubal, which is south of Manipur capital Imphal, Gandhi also hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying perhaps for the BJP and the RSS, Manipur was not a part of India.
"Lakhs of people faced losses, but the prime minister has not come here to wipe your tears, hold your hand or embrace you. Maybe for Narendra Modi, the BJP and the RSS, Manipur is not a part of India. Your pain is not their pain," Gandhi said.
"We understand the pain that the people of Manipur have been through, we understand the hurt, the sadness. We will bring back harmony, peace and affection for which this state was known," he said.
The yatra will cover a distance of 6,713 km, straddling 100 Lok Sabha constituencies and 337 assembly segments and covering 110 districts. It will conclude in Mumbai on March 20 after 67 days.
Earlier, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also slammed the prime minister, saying that he came to the northeastern state only to seek votes and not to share the grief when the people of the state are in pain.
"Modi has time to drive by the sea, take a dip in the sea but has not come to Manipur. Modi keeps chanting 'Ram, Ram', but he should not do it to seek votes. The BJP mixes religion and politics, and incites people," he said at the launch of the yatra.
"The BJP has 'Ram' on its lips but carries a knife by their side. They should not have such an approach towards people," the Congress president said.
Kharge said the Congress stood for social justice, secularism and equity. Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra is being undertaken to save the Constitution and democracy, and fight the fascist forces, he said.
The Congress president said he was proud that a leader of his party was moving from door-to-door to spread the message of peace.
Earlier, Kharge unveiled the bus on which Gandhi and other Congress leaders will travel from Manipur to Mumbai as part of the yatra.