[Two things, especially, deserve to be noted.

*AA*. Despite virtual blackout by the mainstream media -- the electronic
media in particular -- the Yatra is evoking huge public response. In spite
of the chilling winter of the North.
That's almost miraculous.
No less miraculous is that Rahul Gandhi is still in his signature white
T-shirt, now fully buttoned up though. Maybe in consonance with the theme
of "Tapasya" and "Tapaswi".
Also noteworthy is that a virtually new model of mass communication --
bypassing the MSM -- has been established. The team Jairam Ramesh has done
the magic.

*BB*.. With the passage of time, not only the crowd is swelling more and
more -- defying all our commonly held notions -- Rahul is also becoming
more and more outspoken.]

*I*. The Yatra, this misty morning: <https://youtu.be/6b8XSCcQD20>.

*II*. Rahul Gandhi addressing a public meet in UP: <

*III*. The Yatra in Delhi: <

*IV*. A Report from the Jatland in UP.


*In sugar cane land, Bharat Jodo Yatra sows seeds of new political
Rahul Gandhi takes on the BJP for generating fear and hatred among
citizens; he also raised the issues of rising inflation and unemployment

January 04, 2023 09:54 pm | Updated January 05, 2023 08:48 am IST - Baghpat
ANUJ KUMAR <https://www.thehindu.com/profile/author/Anuj-Kumar-1237/>
Scores of larger-than-life cut-outs of Rahul Gandhi in different poses,
including chewing sugarcane and striking a combat pose, have lined up the
roads as the Bharat Jodo Yatra entered the Jat-dominated western Uttar
Pradesh on Wednesday. The focus is on depicting Mr. Gandhi as a family man,
with multiple images of the Congress leader with his sister Priyanka Gandhi
Vadra and mother Sonia Gandhi. The posters speak of the Congress’s
commitment to the Minimum Support Price (MSP), and how Mr. Gandhi carried
the essence of Lord Shiva’s philosophy in his heart.

The yatra in western Uttar Pradesh also hinted at possibilities of new
alliances, with the Rashtriya Lok Dal’s (RLD) local leadership mobilising
numbers for the march. The flags of the Peace Party, and workers of the
Bhim Army, could also be seen.

Addressing a well-attended meeting on a cold January evening in Baraut town
of Baghpat district, Mr. Gandhi, in a brand new avatar, took on the BJP for
generating fear and hatred among citizens. He also raised the issues of
rising inflation and unemployment.

Mr. Gandhi appealed to the youth, farmers and workers to not fear, and said
he had drawn this “don’t fear” attitude from the philosophy of Lord Shiva.
“The BJP government believes in generating fear among youth, farmers and
workers through its ill-conceived policies and then uses this fear to
create an atmosphere of hate. We have to eliminate this hatred,” he said.

The former Congress president said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would raise
the issue of rising cost of gas cylinders and petrol while he was in the
opposition during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule but he was now
silent when the price of a gas cylinder had increased from ₹400 to ₹1,200.
Highlighting the farmer and worker-friendly policies of the UPA government,
Mr. Gandhi said the BJP government could waive the loans of its “corporate
friends” but not of farmers.

The loudest applause came when Mr. Gandhi raised concerns over the Agniveer
scheme for recruitment to the Armed Forces, which he said would force young
Army recruits to return home in four years. “When the youth protested
against the scheme, they were told that if they were photographed while
protesting, they would not get government jobs,” he said.

Earlier, chastising a section of the media, Mr. Gandhi said that those who
were concerned about him walking in a T-shirt should be worried about why
“our farmers and workers don’t have proper clothing in winter”. “Children
of poor farmers who walk along with me during the yatra don’t have proper
winter clothing. Instead of asking why am I walking in a T-shirt, the right
question is why the farmer and worker of this country could not afford a
jacket or a sweater,” he said.

He claimed the media whose reins were in the hands of the government didn’t
raise the real issues, and when the Congress tried to raise the concerns of
the common man in Parliament, the mics were switched off. “It compelled us
to take out this yatra to listen to the voice of the people and have a
dialogue with them,” Mr. Gandhi said.

After RLD president Chaudhary Jayant Singh described those undertaking the
yatra as ascetics, and directed party workers to welcome the yatra in the
RLD’s stronghold, RLD workers turned up in large numbers and offered
jaggery to the yatris as a symbol of welcome to the sugarcane belt. “Mr.
Gandhi has come with a message of peace and nobody should shut the door for
such a noble initiative,” Ajay Tomar, senior RLD leader, said, adding that
this did not mean ceding political space to the Congress in the region.

Salman Khurshid, in charge of the yatra in Uttar Pradesh, thanked the RLD
chief for his “generous gesture” and said the yatra was not for “optics”.
“We are doing it for substance and I am glad that the substance is falling
into place,” Mr. Khurshid said. The political messaging, he said, was that
the Congress was alive in U.P. On designing the schedule in U.P. in a way
that did not create insecurity in the minds of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and
the RLD, Mr. Khurshid told  The Hindu the yatra was not a contest for
political space. “It is about getting everybody together. If not today,
tomorrow, or the day after,” the former Union Cabinet Minister said.

Party spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh said that while the BJP was losing
its allies, the yatra had indicated that like-minded Opposition parties are
aligning with the Congress.

After an overnight stop-over in Baraut, the yatra will move towards Panipat
in Haryana via the Shamli district, stopping at the communally sensitive
towns of Kandhla and Kairana on Thursday.

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