NEW DELHI (AP) — Members of India’s primary opposition Congress celebration and hundreds of supporters strolled into the capital on Saturday as An element of a 5-month-sizey cross-nation “unity march” looking for to problem what They are saying is a “hate-crammed” mannequin of the nation beneath the Hindu nationwideist authorities.

Joined by hundreds of celebration staff and senior chiefs, the march led by Rahul Gandhi, an opposition chief of the Congress celebration and scion of the influential Gandhi househprevious, entered New Delhi after passing by way of eight states.

Flanked by his mom, Sonia Gandhi, and sister, Priyanka Gandhi, the 52-yr-previous chief said that the motive of his sizey stroll throughout the size of the nation is to revive the as quickly as-mighty Congress celebration and currentcase the “exact India” in distinction to the “hate-crammed mannequin” provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“They will unfprevious hate. We’ll unfprevious love,” Gandhi said, referring to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Gandhi set off for the “Bharat Jodo Yatra,” or “Unite India March,” in Kanyakumari, a coastal metropolis That is the southernmost tip of India, on Sept. 7. The march, which is broadcast stay on An internet website, Is predicted to traverse 3,570 kilometers (2,218 miles) and cross 12 states earlier than ending in Indian-managed Kashmir by February.

Passing by way of lots of of villages and cities, the march has attracted farmers apprehensive about rising debt, college students complaining about growing unemployment, civil society members and propers activists who say India’s democratic well being is in decline. Asizeyside The biggest method, Gandhi has additionally shed his previously clear-shaven Search for a thick beard and slept in delivery container cabins all by way of Evening time halts.

In a quantity of impassioned speeches Through the march, Gandhi has typically focused Modi and his authorities for doing Little or no To deal with the rising financial inequality in India, the rising spiritual polarization, and the menace posed by China. The armies of India and China are locked in a bitter standoff Inside the mountainous Ladakh area since 2020. Regardless of over a dozen rounds of talks at army, political and diplomatic ranges, the standoff has protracted.

Modi’s celebration 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 celebration said in a tweet Saturday.

Hindu nationwideism has surged beneath Modi and his celebration, which have been criticized over rising hate speech and violence in the direction of Muslims In current occasions. Opponents say Modi’s silence embpreviousens proper-wing teams and menaceens nationwide unity, however his celebration has denied this.

Regardless of The very Incontrovertible exactity that the Congress celebration says Gandhi’s cross-nation stroll Is notably to reestablish an emotional Reference to Indians, the march’s electoral ambitions are exhausting To overlook.

With a nationwide election Decrease than 16 months amethod, it might decide whether or not India’s beleaguered opposition can put up a wrestle in the direction of the electoral juggernaut of Modi’s celebration that gained The majority in 2014 and 2019.

Rasheed Kidwai, a political analyst, said Gandhi is “using some politically right stpricegies all by way of his sizey stroll that has potential to do some picture rightion for him.” But he cautioned that solely electoral victories will In The Long time period outline whether or not Gandhi’s march is worthwhile.

“Modi’s BJP has Successful price of about 90% in over 200 parliamentary seats the place it’s in direct contest with the Congress. If this march reduces that price, Which Could Even be pretty Successful. In a democracy, It is rather important be related and win elections,” Kidwai said.

In 2019, Modi’s celebration gained 303 out of 543 parliamentary seats, Partially As a Outcome of of its Hindu nationwideistic agenda. Congress was a distant second with 52 seats.

Since Modi acquired here to power for The primary time in 2014, the Congress celebration has additionally suffered crushing defeats in a slew of state polls. It presently guidelines solely three out of 28 states.

Suffering from management disaster and electoral routs, the celebration in October elected its first non-Gandhi president after 24 yrs in an try shed An picture of being run by a single dynasty.

The celebration has been led by non-Relations Prior to now, however Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had been at its helm since 1998.

The march has helped Gandhi, scores current.

In November, polling agency C-Voter said Gandhi’s popularity scores have seen a slight leap As a Outcome of the march started, from 29% to 31%. The marginal enchancment in Gandhi’s popularity, however, reprimarys properly under that of Modi’s 66%.



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