Congress’s Sonia Gandhi, announcing the party’s huge public outreach initiative today, tossed a small ‘challenge’ at its “seniors”. The party has planned a massive Kashmir to Kanyakumari “Bharat Jodo Yatra” starting on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2.
“All of us will participate in it. The Yatra is to strengthen the bonds of social harmony that are under stress, to preserve the foundational values of our Constitution that are under assault and to highlight the day-to-day concerns of crores of our people,” she said on the concluding day of the three-day Chintan Shivir.
Then, in a self -deprecating joke, Mrs Gandhi added, “All of us will participate in it (the footmarch). Seniors will have to find ways to accommodate seniors like me in this… on how to easily participate in yatra without running out of breath”.
Loud cheers and laughter greeted the remark of the 75-year-old, who has not been in good health for some time and has made few public appearances.
In 2016, kicking off the Congress poll campaign for the next year’s assembly elections, Mrs Gandhi had to leave a rally midway. The Congress said she was suffering from dehydration. Two years later, she hit the campaign trail in Karnataka, ahead of another assembly election.
This time, she is expected to address a public meeting in Baneshwar Dham in Banswara in the tribal dominated south Rajasthan. Elections are due in the state next year in which the party is seeking a second term.
At the Chintan Shivir today, ending her short speech on a personal note, Mrs Gandhi said she felt like she had spent an evening with her family. Then, with a smile, she added, “my larger family”, to a bout of renewed cheers.
Then she added, “We will overcome, we will overcome, we will overcome – that is our determination, that’s our Sankalp”.