fredag 27. januar 2023

Rahul Gandhi’s yatra: how a 2,200-mile march revitalised India’s ailing opposition

On a piercingly cold Punjab morning, as a bitter frost crusted the ground, they gathered. Some were bundled up in blankets, others clutched feeble cups of chai for warmth. But not Rahul Gandhi. Wearing only a white T-shirt and cargo trousers, Gandhi began to pace forward at speed, leaving fellow marchers in his wake. “I’ve heard he doesn’t feel the cold,” said Raju, an admiring local onlooker, as he sprinted off to take a photo.

This was the 123rd day that Gandhi, the former leader of India’s once formidable Congress party, had been walking across India, beginning at its southernmost tip of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and travelling 2,200 miles (3,500km) up to the Himalayas. On Monday, he will finish in Srinagar, in the embattled state of Kashmir, after 150 days of walking.

Among those accompanying Gandhi was Karuna Prasad Mishra, a 91-year-old farmer who had once marched with India’s most famous freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi. With a walking stick in his gnarled hand, Mishra proudly boasted of the seven-mile-per-hour speed that he had maintained for over four months of walking 15 miles a day.