BJP using Covid as a pretext against Bharat Jodo Yatra: Congress on Mandaviya’s letter to Rahul

“Modi government is rattled by the success and people’s support Bharat Jodo Yatra is receiving”

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NH Political Bureau

“Modi government is rattled by the success and people’s support Bharat Jodo Yatra is receiving,” said senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala in response to the letter sent to Rahul Gandhi by the union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya. 

Mandaviya shot off a letter to Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, urging him to suspend the Yatra in the wake of rising Covid cases in China, Japan and in some European countries. 

Mandaviya asked Congress to ensure the strict implementation of Covid protocols during the Yatra. He went on to suggest that “only vaccinated people take part in it. Before joining the Yatra, the people should be isolated." 

Mandaviya’s “unwarranted suggestions” received sharp responses from the Congress party. 

While head of the Congress’ communication department, Jairam Ramesh recalled how the Modi government delayed imposition of the lockdown in March 2020, Surjewala urged the government “to focus on China and suspend flights between the two countries.”  

Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked, “Was Prime Minister Narendra Modi wearing a mask or observing covid protocols when he was visiting houses of people in Gujarat to campaign during the Assembly elections there?” 

“I think Mansukh Mandaviya is not liking Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, but people are liking it and joining it. Mandaviya has been deputed to divert the public’s attention,” added Chowdhury.  

Congress spokesperson, Pawan Khera hit back asking, “Has similar letter been sent to the Rajasthan BJP which is taking out a Jan Akrosh Yatra? Has the govt issued any advisory for Covid protocol in public places?” 

Not only Congress but intellectuals wondered if Mandaviya’s letter is in response to the success of the Yatra. Political commentator and columnist, Suhas Palshikar wondered:

"Health minister doing pious duty or is this a comment on the success of the Yatra? Would it not be more appropriate to issue an advisory to all political parties in the first place?"

After covering 44 districts and nine states, the BJY entered Haryana on Wednesday. It will cross into Delhi on November 24. After a gap of 7 days, the Yatra will resume on Jan 3 next year. Superstar Kamal Hasan is likely to join in Delhi.   

Observers believe the Rahul Gandhi-led Yatra has unnerved the BJP brasses as it has received unprecedented support in the Hindi heartland, which is considered to be the BJP's strong base. 

The saffron party is hoping to wrest power from Congress in the next assembly election in Rajasthan and retain power in Haryana for the third consecutive term. BJP leaders fear that the buzz created around the Yatra may upset its calculation in two prominent Hindi heartland states, said a senior journalist, adding that this is the reason for the negative atmosphere being created against the Yatra. 

If Covid hits India again, they will take no time in calling the Yatra a super spreader, said the political observer. 

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