The Congress ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra,’ led by Rahul Gandhi, is slated to enter West Bengal from Assam on Thursday, amid political ripples within the INDIA bloc alliance in the state.
The Bengal leg of the Yatra will begin a day after Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s announcement that her party will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls independently in West Bengal.
Both Congress and the TMC are constituents of the INDIA bloc formed to take on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in the 2024 Parliamentary elections.
Currently traversing Assam, the Yatra is scheduled to enter West Bengal through Bakshirhat in Cooch Behar district in the northern part of the state on January 25.
Following a two-day hiatus on January 26-27, it will navigate through Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Uttar Dinajpur, and Darjeeling districts before entering Bihar on January 29.
Re-entering West Bengal on January 31 via Malda, it will pass through Murshidabad, both Congress stronghold districts, before departing the state on February 1.
The Bengal leg of the yatra spans 523 km across six districts and six Lok Sabha constituencies-Darjeeling, Raigunj, North and South Malda, and two in Murshidabad over five days.
This marks Rahul Gandhi’s first visit to the state since the April-May 2021 assembly polls.
Former state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya expressed optimism, stating, “We are hopeful that the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra of Rahul Ji will give a new lease of life to Bengal’s Congress unit. This Yatra will not only help us organisationally but also electorally ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.” On entering the state on Thursday afternoon, Rahul Gandhi will lead a padayatra from Maa Bhawani Chowk in Cooch Behar town.
The Yatra will continue by bus at Gokshadanga before reaching Falakata in the Alipurduar district for an overnight halt.
A recess has been planned on January 26 and 27, with the yatra resuming from Falakata on January 28, passing through Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, Naxalbari in Darjeeling district, and Uttar Dinajpur district.
The CPI (M) and Left parties, allies of the Congress within the state and the INDIA bloc at the national level, are expected to join the march.
However, TMC has decided to abstain, citing a lack of information about the Yatra.
Mamata Banerjee said, “As a gesture of courtesy, did they (Congress) let me know that they are coming to Bengal for the Yatra? I am not aware of it.” “It seems the TMC is trying to help the BJP in the state,” senior Congress leader Deepa Dasmunsi said.
In a setback to the opposition INDIA bloc, TMC boss Mamata Banerjee announced on Wednesday that her party would contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls independently.
The surprise move left the grand old party stunned. Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in Assam, “No one can imagine the existence of the opposition INDIA bloc without West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee.” The CPI (M)-led Left Front, Congress, and the TMC are part of the 28-party INDIA bloc.
However, in West Bengal, the CPI(M) and Congress have aligned against the TMC and BJP.
The Yatra, which started in Manipur on January 14, is scheduled to cover 6,713 km in 67 days while passing through 110 districts in 15 states, before culminating in Mumbai on March 20.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)