For Santhosh Kumar Kolkunda, the Bharat Jodo Yatra brings a sense of deja vu. He traversed the same route from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 2019, albeit through a different mode. This national secretary of the Indian Youth Congress cycled from Jammu to Kanyakumari three years ago, and this time, he is retracing his journey on foot as part of the yatra.
On cycle, he had travelled 4,156 km in 41 days, going 100 km per day on average. That is why, when he heard about the yatra, he decided to jump in. “I come from a politically active family. My grandfather took part in it and my father was a sarpanch. That is why joining politics was a natural route for me," Santhosh told News18.
Wheel turns full circle
This Congress leader, who is a lawyer by profession, joined the party in 2003. Both his yatras — be it on a bicycle or on foot — have the same aim: to interact with people from the country and know about their issues. During his cycling tour, he crowdsourced Rs 2 lakh and distributed the money among NGOs he is associated with. This time, it was Rahul Gandhi’s call and his mother’s encouragement that made him join the yatra.
“Though I was enthusiastic about joining the yatra, a personal loss was threatening to disturb my resolve. I lost my father last November and its anniversary is around the corner. I was sceptical about being in the yatra at such a difficult moment. However, my mother cleared all my doubts when she told me that I should respond to Rahulji’s call," the Congress leader explained.
Stating that it has been refreshing to listen to people from all walks of life, especially from the Telugu states, he narrated one incident: “When we were walking through Adoni in Andhra Pradesh, a woman approached us and said that she wanted a photo with ‘Indira Gandhi’s grandson’. When we explained that he was far ahead, she invited a couple of yatris to her home and served us tea. Pointing to her home, she said that she got it through the Indiramma Housing Scheme and that she is grateful. She also complained about how the GST on milk was making it a very expensive drink for them. She asked us to bring back ‘Indira Rajyam’. Interacting with such people is what motivates us to walk every day."
This lawyer from Vikarabad shares how he was excited when the yatra entered his home state. “As we crossed the Krishna river and I looked at the swelling crowd of the yatra, my heart was filled with happiness. We are not doing this for political gains, but to know about people’s issues. I took up the cycle yatra because I felt guilty that despite being a national youth secretary, my knowledge was limited to a couple of states. I am happy that I get to do this all over again in the company of Rahulji," he said.
Tricolour at Charminar
On Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi will resume the yatra from Matha temple at Shamshabad and unfurl the tricolour at Charminar at 4.30 pm. 32 years ago, his father, Rajiv Gandhi, started his Sadbhavna Yatra at Charminar, and Rahul is looking to invoke memories of the Congress’s legacy in the state. After much speculation, Jairam Ramesh had made it clear that Rahul would not be visiting the ‘controversial’ Bhagyalakshmi temple jutting Charminar. BJP leaders have been patronising the temple that activists claim is an illegal structure.
After hoisting the flag, the yatra will take a break at the Indira Gandhi statue on Necklace Road by the bank of Hussain Sagar. The yatra enters Maharashtra on November 7.
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