‘I have come to J&K with message of love, end hatred’
*Punjab Govt being run by remote from Delhi
LAKHANPUR, Jan 19: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today said that he has come to his roots in J&K with a message of love, peace and bringing an end to the hatred.
Addressing a large gathering after his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ entered Jammu and Kashmir at Lakhanpur this evening, Gandhi said, “ My ancestors belonged to this land and I feel I am returning my home. I am going back to my roots in Kashmir.”
“ I know the sufferings of the people here and I have come here with the message of love and peace and bringing end to the hatred,” Gandhi told a mammoth gathering at the bank of river Ravi.
As dusk fell and temperatures dipped, hundreds of people walked alongside Rahul Gandhi. In a customary handover function, Punjab’s Congress Unit head gave the party flag to Jammu and Kashmir Pardesh Congress chief, Vikar Rasool Wani in presence of other senior leaders. Besides NC president, Dr Farooq Abdullah several other leaders from various political parties in J&K had arrived to welcome Gandhi.
Rahul accused the Government of indulging in “mass pick-pocketing” by diverting the attention of people and then “looting” them. Congress leader said he had walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and talked to thousands of people including farmers and poor, irrespective of their religion.
“The BJP and RSS have spread hatred. I earlier thought it ran deep but it does not and is mainly seen on television,” Gandhi said at his first stop in J&K, about 90 km from Jammu.
He listed hatred, violence, unemployment and price rise as the main issues confronting the country and blamed the media for not highlighting them.
Criticising the media for not focusing on the right issues, Gandhi said it uses topics such as Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai and Akshay Kumar to divert the attention of people.
There was one more point about two India’s in making – one for poor and one for the Corporate world, he remarked.
Gandhi said he had been walking about seven hours a day, covering 25 km each day, but nobody was tired as some people had predicted.
“I later felt we are not feeling tired because people are pushing us forward. If someone falls, he is supported within seconds. Nobody is asking anyone what is your religion,” he said.
Gandhi started walking from Kanyakumari in September. The Bharat Jodo Yatra is scheduled to conclude in Srinagar on January 30. The distance yet to be covered is over 360 km.
Amidst the chants of `Nafrat Chhodo, Bharat Jodo” (Leave hatred and unite India), Gandhi led Bharat Jodo Yatra entered J&K via Pathankot in Punjab, marking the final phase of the 3500-km foot march by the Congress leader started from Kanyakumari in September.
Gandhi was welcomed into Union Territory of J&K by senior party leaders including Jairam Ramesh, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Digvijay Singh, NC president Farooq Abdullah, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party and former Minister Lal Singh and Awami National Conference leader Muzaffar Shah. Lal Singh was not present at the podium as he came late and was seen standing in the crowd during the function.
Fire crackers were burst as Gandhi accompanied by party workers and supporters crossed the Madhopur bridge into Jammu and Kashmir amid tight security cover.
The venue near the statue of Maharaja Gulab Singh was jam-packed with thousands of people turned up to witness the event.
“After covering 3200 km from Kanyakumari, it is a happy moment for us that the Yatra has reached Jammu and Kashmir,” JKPCC president Vikar Rasool Wani said.
The Yatra will have night stay at Lakhanpur and will resume tomorrow morning from Hatli Morh in Kathua at 7 am. It will have night halt at Chadwal Morh.
Earlier, during the day addressing a large rally at Pathankote, Rahul launched a scathing attack on the BJP-led Centre, alleging that its policies “create fear” among the people.
He also accused the BJP and the RSS of creating an atmosphere of hatred, violence and fear in the country.
The former Congress chief took on the Narendra Modi Government over demonetisation, “faulty” Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Agnipath Defence Recruitment Scheme.
Gandhi alleged that the BJP was making one religion fight against another, creating a wedge, pitting one caste against another and one language against another.
“They (BJP) create fear. All of their policies cause fear to one or the other,” he alleged.
Pointing towards the policies of the previous UPA Government, Gandhi said it brought MGNREGA, waived farm loans, urban renewal mission, green revolution and white revolution.
“Whatever we do is to wipe out fear. And whatever they do they (BJP) do is to spread fear,” Rahul remarked.
“Look at their policies, farmers get up at 4 am in the morning and they toil hard daily and feed the nation. Farmers do not want anything in return, they only want respect,” he added.
Gandhi targeted the Centre over the now-repealed three Agriculture laws and said these created fear in the minds of farmers.
“But what did BJP do for them — they brought ‘black’ farm laws. These laws created fear among farmers,” he said.
Speaking about the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the Congress leader claimed that farmers were not getting compensation for their crop damage caused due to the vagaries of weather.
“Not even a single farmer told me that they got insurance compensation when they suffered crop loss due to natural calamities,” he claimed.
Gandhi targeted the Centre over the Agnipath Defence Recruitment Scheme, saying it has shattered the dreams of those aspiring to join the Defence forces.
He said lakhs of youths aspire to join the Armed forces and protect the nation.
“Has the Agniveer Scheme lessened their fear or increased it?” Gandhi asked the gathering, and after their reply, asked, “hasn’t this scheme increased their fear” ?
“Did the Agniveer scheme strengthen or weaken the country’s Army,” he asked.
“What three black laws did to farmers, the Agnipath scheme is doing to the armed forces,” he alleged.
He said Ludhiana used to be the centre for small and medium industry and competed with China. Auto parts, textiles, bicycles and sports goods in Jalandhar, these used to be exported to the world.
“Did demonetisation eliminate or create fear, did wrong GST eliminate or create fear (among the small and medium industry). So, wherever they bring a scheme, their target is to create fear and snatch fruits of people’s labour and hand it over to India’s 2-3 billionaires,” he alleged.
When fear is created in society, it is easy to spread hatred. If there is fear in farmers’ heart, it can be easily converted into hatred, if there is fear in small and medium entrepreneurs’ hearts, it can be easily converted into hatred, he remarked.
This is their job — to spread fear in the country and convert that into hatred…To divert attention and snatch from India’s “Tapasvis” and hand it over to 2-3 billionaires, alleged Gandhi as he targeted the BJP.
“Why? Because industrialists do marketing for their party. For 24 hours, you will see Narendra Modi’s face in the media. Switch on TV and you will see Narendra Modi’s face,” he added.
Pointing out the problems faced by farmers, inflation, shortage of fertilisers among others, Gandhi asked, “Have you seen discussion on these issues in the media or on wrong GST and demonetisation.”
“Those who control the media houses, their target is to see India’s attention should not be drawn towards real issues. And they do it 24 hours. Why? Because your pocket is being picked.
“When a pickpocket steals your purse, he is not alone and is accompanied by 2-3 people who divert the attention of the person they target. Once the attention is diverted, the pickpocket does his job. They divert attention. A pickpocket steals a thousand or two thousand rupees, but they snatch lakhs of crores of rupees from the people of this country,” alleged Gandhi.
He said the Yatra, which started from Kanyakumari and moves to Jammu and Kashmir in the final leg, was started against inflation, unemployment and hatred and also to connect people of this country.
Gandhi said people showered their love during the Yatra and gave them great strength.
Giving an example of Punjab, he said people offered free food and all help to the Yatris who were part of the foot march.
“You may call it love or `Punjabiyat’, you may give different names. I want to thank you from my heart,” Gandhi said.
On sporting a turban during the Punjab-leg of yatra, Gandhi said, “I wore ‘pagri’ deliberately. I wanted to tell you that your history and the path which was shown by your Gurus, I respect it and I bow before it and this is also my path,” he said.
Launching attack on the AAP government in Punjab, Gandhi alleged that it was being run with a remote control from Delhi as he sought to point towards AAP MP Raghav Chadha for calling the shots in the Bhagwant Mann-led dispensation in the State.
Congress leader accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of spending Punjab funds on Advertisements during the Gujarat Assembly polls held last year. Gandhi further said he respects CM Mann but asked him that Punjab should be run from Punjab only, not from Delhi.
Referring to his last public address in Hoshiarpur earlier this week, Gandhi said, “I told Bhagwant Mann, do not let Punjab be run from a remote control. I did not say an ordinary thing. “You sat with me in Lok Sabha (when Mann was an MP). There is a huge difference between you and Arvind Kejriwal. I respect you and I am saying this from the stage of the Congress party. But Punjab should not be run from Delhi,” he said.
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