Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has decided to cut short his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Uttar Pradesh by skipping western part of the state and saving five days, a party leader said on Monday while citing board exams.
The decision follows indications that Samajwadi Party ally and Jayant Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) may join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson Anshu Awasthi said the duration of the yatra in UP is being reduced in view of the state board examinations for Classes 10 and 12.
The yatra was earlier scheduled to remain in Uttar Pradesh from February 16 to February 26 before entering Rajasthan. However, it will now end on February 21 and enter Madhya Pradesh by skipping western UP.
'Setting an example of sensitivity, Rahul Gandhi ji has given public interest a priority on many occasions. Keeping in mind the UP Board examinations starting from February 22, the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will remain in Uttar Pradesh from February 16 to February 21,' Awasthi said in a statement issued in Lucknow.
'Earlier, Rahul Gandhi had cancelled his rallies in Bengal out of concern for the people during the COVID-19 period,' the spokesperson said.
Elaborating on the schedule of the yatra in UP, Awasthi said it will enter the state through Varanasi on February 16, and then reach Amethi on February 19 via Bhadohi, Prayagraj and Pratapgarh.
On February 19, Gandhi will address a public meeting in Gauriganj in Amethi Lok Sabha constituency and the yatra will reach Rae Bareli the next day from where it will proceed for Lucknow. The participants of the march, including Gandhi, are likely to make a night halt there, he said.
The spokesperson said the yatra will reach Unnao from Lucknow on February 21. It will enter Kanpur via Unnao city and Shuklaganj.
Subsequently, it will reach Jhansi via Kanpur and Hamirpur, after which it would enter Madhya Pradesh the same day.
Denying that the recent and sudden shift of the RLD (a part of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) towards the Bharatiya Janata Party has prompted the party to go back to the drawing board and leave the western UP region, Awasthi said, "The change in the itinerary of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra is only in view of the UP Board examination."
According to the website of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, the hybrid bus and foot march was earlier scheduled to reach Bareilly from Lucknow. It would have then gone to Aligarh and Agra before entering Rajasthan.
Asked when Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will be joining the yatra, Awasthi told PTI, "SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is likely to join the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Rae Bareli district on February 20 and take part in a road show."
Yadav on February 6 received an invitation to join the yatra. Yadav had said he will join the yatra either in Amethi or in Raebareli.
'Akhilesh Yadav has received an invitation of (Congress president) Mallikarjun Kharge to join Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, which enters UP on February 16. Yadav has given consent to join the yatra either in Amethi or Raebareli,' the SP said in a statement.
Yadav said he expected that the yatra would join the 'PDA' strategy of the SP while entering the state and take forward its agitation for 'social justice and mutual harmony'.