A cross-country march led by Indian opposition chief Rahul Gandhi has reached the capital New Delhi after passing via eight states, hoping to regain a few of the reputation it misplaced to the ruling Hindu nationalist occasion.
Tens of hundreds of individuals have joined Gandhi’s “Unite India March” in opposition to “hate and division”, which goals to show the Congress occasion’s fortunes round after its drubbing by the Bharatiya Janata Occasion (BJP) in two successive nationwide elections.
“Hindu-Muslim hatred is being unfold twenty-four-seven to divert your consideration from actual points,” Gandhi mentioned in his speech on the Mughal-era Crimson Fort within the Indian capital.
“They may unfold hate. We’ll unfold love,” he mentioned, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP.
Hindu nationalism has surged below Modi and his occasion, which have been criticised over rising hate speech and violence against Muslims in recent times. Opponents say Modi’s silence emboldens right-wing teams and threatens nationwide unity, however his occasion has denied this.
“There are issues in regards to the plight of minorities, the shrinking area for dissent, in addition to the federal government’s dealing with of the pandemic and the financial system,” mentioned Al Jazeera’s Pavni Mittal, reporting from New Delhi.
“Analysts say the Congress’s lack of ability to be an efficient opposition and maintain the federal government accountable has contributed to the BJP’s unprecedented success,” she added.
The Nehru-Gandhi household has managed the Congress occasion for many years however has additionally overseen its latest decline. The occasion at present governs simply three of India’s 28 states.
Rahul Gandhi resigned as Congress president after the final basic election. The subsequent nationwide polls are due by 2024.
Stricken by a management disaster and collection of electoral routs, the Congress in October elected Mallikarjun Kharge, its first non-Gandhi president in 24 years, in an try to shed the picture of being run by a single household.
Kharge on Saturday wrote on Twitter the march is “in opposition to the politics of inflation, unemployment, inequality, and hatred”.
“[This] nationwide mass motion has gathered the hopes of crores [millions] of individuals by reaching the throne of energy,” he posted.
The march will take a nine-day break in New Delhi earlier than beginning its closing leg on January 3 in direction of Srinagar, the principle metropolis in Indian-administered Kashmir within the north.
The three,570-km (2,218-mile) Unite India march began in September within the coastal city of Kanyakumari on the southern tip of India.
Congress chief Jairam Ramesh advised journalists on Saturday the march – which is broadcast reside on an internet site – has accomplished almost 3,200km (1,988 miles) to this point in 9 states.
Gandhi’s mom and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, his sister and occasion chief Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra joined Saturday’s march within the capital.
Sharing an image of himself hugging his mom through the rally, Gandhi tweeted: “The love I’ve acquired from her is what I’m sharing with the nation.”
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan additionally joined the march on Saturday.
We stroll for an India the place nobody lives in concern, and everybody finds a greater future. pic.twitter.com/ooLG8mA55C
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) December 24, 2022
Passing via lots of of villages and cities, the march has attracted farmers nervous about rising debt, college students complaining about rising unemployment, civil society members and rights activists who say India’s democratic well being is in decline.
In a number of impassioned speeches through the march, Gandhi usually focused Modi and his authorities for doing little or no to handle the rising financial inequality in India, the rising spiritual polarisation, and the risk posed by China.
The armies of India and China are locked in a bitter standoff within the mountainous Ladakh area since 2020. Regardless of over a dozen rounds of talks at navy, political and diplomatic ranges, the standoff has protracted.
In the meantime, Modi’s occasion has dismissed Gandhi’s march and speeches as a political gimmick to regain his “misplaced credibility”.
“The character of the Congress has been to interrupt India,” the occasion mentioned in a tweet on Saturday.
Javed M Ansari, a journalist and political commentator, mentioned the march has succeeded in reinvigorating the Congress Occasion.
“There’s a sure momentum now – a vital function so far as the Congress employees are involved,” Ansari advised Al Jazeera.
The recognition of the march has “definitely modified Gandhi’s picture” for the higher, he mentioned, including that the problem for his occasion now can be to translate the passion within the streets into votes.