The Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra will enter BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh tomorrow after travelling through six southern and western states. The 3,570-km foot march will make its way into the state through Bodarli village in Burhanpur district, where Rahul Gandhi – who is the face of the yatra — will be joined by his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Bodarli village has a historic connect with the Nehru-Gandhi family. Former Prime Minister and Mr Gandhi’s grandmother Indira Gandhi had addressed a rally by torchlight in the village 42 years ago, in support of party candidate Shiv Kumar Singh during the 1980 Lok Sabha polls.
She had also toured the tribal-dominated Burhanpur and Khandwa districts for three days, mostly in an open jeep, powering the party candidate to a memorable victory over BJP stalwart Kushabhau Thakre.
Mr Gandhi’s parents, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, too, had visited Burhanpur. Mrs Gandhi had visited Burhanpur for a second time in 2000 to unveil the statue of senior party leader Shiv Kumar Singh, who won the Lok Sabha election from the area in 1980.
During the yatra, Mr Gandhi will visit two huge pilgrim centres of the state — Omkareshwar in Khandwa and Ujjain’s Mahakaleshwar – which house two jyotirlingas.
He is also make offerings at the holy Narmada river and visit the birthplaces of tribal leader Tantya Bhil in Khandwa and BR Ambedkar in Indore’s Mhow.
Tantya Bhil, who gained a reputation as India’s Robin Hood, belonged to the Bhil sub-caste of the Adivasi community, which accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the 1.53 crore tribal population of the state.
The yatra will cross 399 km in Madhya Pradesh, through 25-30 assembly segments of six districts — Burhanpur, Khandwa, Khargone, Indore, Ujjain and Agar-Malwa — before entering Rajasthan on December 5.
Five Lok Sabha seats of Madhya Pradesh lie on the route of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The seats of Khandwa, Khargone, Indore, Ujjain and Dewas are all occupied by the BJP.
Besides, 26 assembly seats also lie on the route, of which, 16 seats are under the BJP control. All four assembly seats in Khandwa district are with the BJP.
In Burhanpur, one seat is held by the BJP and one by Independents. The Congress holds all five assembly seats in Khargone district.
Of the nine assembly seats in Indore district, six are with BJP and three with the Congress.
In Ujjain district, the Congress is in possession of four seats and BJP of three. In Agar-Malwa district, one seat is with the BJP and one with the Congress.
The focus of the Congress is on the 16 assembly seats on the route, which are currently held by the BJP. The party is aiming at winning all 16 in the 2023 assembly elections.
The Congress had won the 2018 assembly election in the state but its government, led by Kamal Nath, crashed two years later as Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the BJP with more than 20 loyalists. Subsequently, the BJP formed the government in the state.
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