A cross-country march led by Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi reached the capital New Delhi on Saturday, hoping to regain some of the popularity it lost to the ruling Hindu-nationalist party.

More than 40000 people joined Gandhi’s march against “hate and division”, which aims to turn the Congress party’s fortunes around after its drubbing by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a 2019 election.

Gandhi’s mother, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party leader Priyanka Gandhi and her husband Robert Vadra joined Saturday’s march.

Sharing a picture of himself hugging his mother during the rally, Gandhi tweeted: “The love I have received from her is what I am sharing with the country”.

The “Unite India Rally” march began in September in the coastal town of Kanyakumari on the southern tip of India. It plans to cover more than 3,500 km (2,200 miles) to reach Srinagar in about 150 days.

The parade, which has received a better public response than expected, will take a nine-day break in Delhi before starting its final leg on Jan. 3 towards Srinagar in the northernmost Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Earlier  Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday renewed his attack on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accusing them of spreading “fear and violence” in the country, and said people have witnessed ‘real India’ during his Bharat Jodo Yatra. 

“A few days back, at a speech, I had said to people of RSS and BJP, “I have come here to open a shop of love amid your market of hatred” Rahul said.

‘Ask anyone in this yatra if he was asked about his religion, about his caste, was he threatened, were you beaten? No. Just love and respect. 

Rahul Gandhi was addressing party workers and supporters who welcomed him at the Badarpur metro station after the padayatra entered the national capital from the NHPC metro station in Faridabad, Haryana. 

“You may have seen in this yatra, there was no hatred. Have you heard while walking during this yatra someone abusing you, or assaulting anyone throughout this yatra?” Rahul added. “If someone falls, other people rush to get him up to help him. This is the reality of India,” Rahul said.

“An India filled with hatred and fear is not a real India. This is the real India, an India of love, respect and brotherhood. we want to mirror them the true face of India,” Rahul added. 

“We wanted to show an alternative to the people of India. RSS showed their way of violence and hatred. They made farmers suffer. they destroyed small and medium enterprises (SMEs). “This yatra set out to achieve a few goals.

One motive is to unite the people of India, to remove fear and hatred. The second aim is to stand against unemployment, and the third is to fight against inflation,” Rahul said. 

Senior Congress leader Pawan Khera said “It is not the job of the government to raise questions but to give answers, make rules & announce protocols. We will follow all the COVID protocols. They should announce wearing masks in airports & in public places. They are only doing politics, .

Former Union Minister and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, said “I will wear the mask. PM wore a mask to Parliament on Friday, but later there was no mask on his face.  We will follow all protocols issued by govt on the basis of medical evidence. ” .

BJP is doing politics on COVID and trying to defame Bharat Jodo Yatra : congress

“Few selected people are spreading violence in the country. A common man, farmer and youth are speaking the language of love. They are talking about moving forward. People have walked 3,000 km in this yatra. This is a little India. It is like a stream — people from every religion are involved in this yatra,” Rahul added.

“You go and see their policies in the last few years and look at UPA policies. I am asking you, have they removed the fear of farmers? 

We waived off farmer loans. When we introduced the land reform bill, did we remove their fears, did we remove their fears,” Rahul Gandhi was seen asking the crowd. Rahul Gandhi also highlighted that due to the wrong policies of the Centre, the common man was made to suffer.

“Did demonetisation remove their fears? Did wrong GST policies remove their fears? What they did during Covid19, did it remove the fears of people?,” Rahul kept asking the crowd who gathered to listen, and the masses chanted ‘No’ 

“When a farmer did not get a life insurance policy, did his fear get removed? Their policies are meant to spread fear among people,” Rahul alleged. 

Rahul started his speech with the “Yatra has reached Delhi from Kanyakumari and will from here head towards Srinagar”.

“We will wave our flags in Srinagar,” Rahul said. Rahul Gandhi also said “lakhs of people participated in this yatra. Lakhs of people participated in every state, adding, People put their weight, love and energy behind this yatra”. 

‘You might have seen on the internet, that a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian are walking shoulder to shoulder in this yatra. People from every caste are walking in this yatra.

Peophttps://splco.me/eng/sc-serves-dictum-to-bjp-govts-in-up-uttarakhand-and-lo-delhi-over-hate-speech/le of every language are walking in this yatra. You will not get to watch hatred in this yatra,” Rahul claimed during his speech.