Mehbooba, Priyanka join BJY in Pulwama under tight security

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka wave at crowd as they lead Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kashmir on Saturday.
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka wave at crowd as they lead Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kashmir on Saturday.

Cong has to be fulcrum of any Oppn against BJP: Jairam

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, Jan 28: People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi joined Rahul Gandhi at the Bharat Jodo Yatra in South Kashmir as the party’s foot march reached its final destination of Srinagar.
The yatra resumed from Awantipora where former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti,her daughter Iltija Mufti and mother Gulshan Mufti joined Gandhi.
Large number of people, mostly supporters of the PDP, joined the rally amid tight security. There was a large security presence in the rally after Rahul yesterday alleged a security breach.
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Mehbooba, who walked several kilometers with Rahul, said the Bharat Jodo Yatra is like a breath of fresh air in Kashmir as it allowed people to come out of their homes in numbers for the first time since 2019.
“Rahul Gandhi’s yatra comes like a breath of fresh air in Kashmir. It is the first time since 2019 that Kashmiris have come out of their homes in such massive numbers. It was a great experience to walk with him,” Mehbooba tweeted.
Priyanka Gandhi walked alongside the former Congress president amidst tight security arrangements before the yatra stopped for a break at Lethpora.
Gandhi also paid homage to the 40 CRPF personnel who were killed in a suicide car bomb attack at Lethpora by laying a bouquet at the spot where the security force’s bus was blown up in February 2019.
After a stop near Birla School in Galandar area of Pampore, the yatra has halted at Pantha Chowk for the night.
After a night’s halt there, the yatra would resume on Sunday morning from Pantha Chowk and will culminate near Nehru Park on Boulevard Road in the city. Prior to culmination flag hoisting will be done at Lal Chowk.
The press conference of Gandhi that was scheduled for tomorrow at 3 pm has been put on hold. A Congress leader said that there is no press conference tomorrow as per programme as of now.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is hosting dinner at Hotel Taj Vivanta tomorrow evening.
On Monday, Gandhi will unfurl the tricolour at the party headquarters at M A Road here, following which a public rally will be held at SK Stadium here for which 23 opposition political parties have been invited.
The Congress later today said during press conference that the party should be the fulcrum of any Opposition coalition against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2024 general elections.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference at Congress headquarters in Srinagar, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the coalition would be meaningless without the Congress.
“Any Opposition platform to defeat the BJP must be based on two realities. Reality number one, Congress must be the pivot or fulcrum of any Opposition alliance, and, without the Congress, no Opposition alliance is relevant and meaningful. Any Opposition alliance must be based on a constructive agenda not just a negative agenda of anti-BJP or anti-regime. It must be based on a constructive and positive agenda,” he added.
Ramesh said the Congress will begin political talks and negotiations after Rahul-led Bharat Jodo Yatra is concluded on January 30.
The Congress leader said the political issues like coalition-building are not the business of Bharat Jodo Yatra but the party will begin the process of talking to political parties after the Yatra.
Ramesh said that Congress is for the restoration of the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Congress leader said the absence of many political parties in the final leg of Bharat Jodo Yatra in Srinagar on January 30 is not a setback to the party.
“I don’t see the absence of anybody who is being invited and not being present at the end of Bharat Jodo Yatra as a setback. They may have other preoccupations.”
Ramesh said the concluding day of Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra on January 30 in Srinagar is not a coalition-building exercise.
“Let me make it absolutely clear that the function of Bharat Jodo Yatra on January 30 is not coalition-building exercise. For the function on January 30, an invitation was extended in good faith to like-minded political parties who we believe oppose the policies and programmes of the BJP. It is not to build platform for 2024,” he added.
“It was, as I said, a courtesy extended to like-minded parties to come and take part in the formal conclusion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra’s flag-hoisting ceremony at the PCC office at Lal Chowk. The parties had been invited to take advantage of Bharat Jodo Yatra. So I don’t see it as a setback,” he said.
He said that three-tier security arrangements were in place for the Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY). He acknowledged stating that “adequate security measures were in place today.”
He said that the security arrangements unlike yesterday were adequate. He further added that the restoration of democratic process and restoration of Statehood is the utmost priority at present.
Ramesh further said that of a total 136 days, Rahul Gandhi led a yatra that marched 4080 kilometers in 116 days in which the people from different walks of the life participated and extended their support.
In J&K also, the yatra was held in five districts each in Jammu and Kashmir while a main and culmination function will be held on January 30 and flag hoisting ceremony will be done at PCC headquarters in Srinagar. He further said that the main function will be held at Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium here in Srinagar.