NEW DELHI, Jan 23: The Rahul Gandhi-led “Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra” was stopped from entering Assam’s most populous city Guwahati on Tuesday triggering protests from Congress workers who broke barricades and raised slogans.
Gandhi later addressed party supporters on the outskirts of the city, and said, “We have broken barricades, but will not break the law” and after a protest dharna later proceeded from the designated route on the ring road through the outskirts of the city.
Talking to media persons on Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi said the Yatra was “benefitting from what Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is doing.” Reiterating that CM Sarma is “the most corrupt CM” in the country, he said the Yatra has become the “main issue” in Assam right now.
“There is a clear problem in the state. The Assam CM is one of the most corrupt CMs in the country. Wherever I move around the state, everyone complains about unemployment, inflation, corruption, and farmers’ struggles. That is the situation, and we are raising these issues,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Congress’ Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra in an official post on X said: “The people of the country are seeing to what extent the BJP government has come to suppress the voice raised against injustice. You will undoubtedly block our path, but you will not be able to suppress our voice. This voice will remain loud, until we get the right to justice!”
The Chief Minister Sarma had earlier said the Yatra would not be allowed to enter the city in order to avoid traffic jams. The Yatra, which entered Meghalaya on Monday, returned to Assam for its last leg and will travel through the outskirts of the state’s largest city Guwahati.
Congress’s Assam chief Bhupen Borah and party leader Jakir Hussain Sikdar were among those injured amid a scuffle between people taking part in the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and the police as the Yatra tried to enter Guwahati on Tuesday.
Mr Gandhi was earlier accorded a boisterous welcome as he tried to enter Guwahati and addressed some varsity students on the way. The police, which had set up barricades at two places to prevent the Yatra from entering the city limits, had to use force to stop the Congress workers.
Addressing supporters, he said while BJP president J P Nadda took the same route, they were not allowed to travel on it. “You should not think we are weak. We have broken the barricades,” he told his workers and supporters, calling them “babbar sher” (lion).
“They have cancelled my programme at the university. My programme was cancelled, but the students heard me outside,” he said. “Congress workers do not fear anyone,” he said, adding that “we will defeat the BJP in Assam and form the Congress government soon.” He also lauded the police for doing their job well.
“We know that police officers have done a good job and followed orders, with one person coming and lying down before the (yatra) bus. We are not against you. We are against the chief minister who is most corrupt. Our fight is with him,” Gandhi said.
He said policemen were also clapping on his speech but hastened to add that they should not. “We have won as we have broken the barricades,” AICC in-charge for Assam Jitendra Singh said.
The Congress MP from the state Gaurav Gogoi on the Yatra said, “Since last few days, Assam CM is making an atmosphere so that Rahul Gandhi gets hurt during the yatra…first Congress workers were attacked, then there was an attack on Jairam Ramesh’s vehicle and after that, Assam Congress President Bhupen Kumar Borah was attacked and he got injured. A conspiracy is being made by Assam CM to create an unpeaceful atmosphere…”
A day after the Ram temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Gandhi has said it was a “political programme” of the BJP and dismissed suggestions that it had generated any wave among the people. Stopping me from visiting temple, university, preventing ‘padyatra’ part of intimidation tactics; we don’t get intimidated,” he said.
Mr Gandhi said, “What Assam CM is doing against the yatra, it is benefitting the yatra. The kind of publicity we are getting is proving their [Assam CM and Union Home Minister] intervention to be beneficial… People are seeing the injustice being done.”
Mr Gandhi also alleged that his invitation to USTM University, located along the Assam-Meghalaya border, was revoked following Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s involvement. He claimed that Assam’s Chief Minister Office called up the leadership of the University and asked them not to allow him to speak to the students.