Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has accepted an invitation from Congress to join Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra during its Uttar Pradesh leg of the nationwide outreach programme.
Acceptance came at the background of growing bitterness between the two parties over the sharing of seats after Akhilesh unilaterally announced 11 seats for the Congress while the latter made it clear that it would accept not less than 20 seats.
In an indication of a thaw in relations, Akhilesh responded to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge's invitation and expressed his willingness to participate in the yatra in either Raebareli or Amethi.
Both Raebareli and Amethi hold particular significance in Uttar Pradesh's political landscape. Despite the BJP's Smriti Irani defeating Rahul Gandhi in the Amethi Lok Sabha seat during the 2019 general elections, the district remains a stronghold for the Congress.
Similarly, Raebareli, represented by former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in the lower house, is considered another party bastion.
The ongoing Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, a sequel to last year's Bharat Jodo Yatra, commenced in Manipur last month and is slated to conclude in Mumbai. Currently traversing through Jharkhand, the yatra has already covered five states primarily by bus and is scheduled to enter BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh on the afternoon of February 16.
Confirming Yadav's acceptance of the invitation, the Samajwadi Party issued a statement saying, "Akhilesh Yadav has received an invitation from Mallikarjun Kharge to join Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, which enters UP on February 16. Yadav has given consent to join the yatra either in Amethi or Raebareli."
This development follows Yadav's recent criticism of Congress for not extending him an invitation to the yatra. The former chief minister and prominent leader of the INDIA bloc remarked, "Many big events are organised, but we are not invited," when asked about his participation. In response, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh clarified that the final programme is yet to be finalised, and the party remains open to inviting alliance partners.
Yadav anticipates that his participation in the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will align with the SP's 'PDA' strategy upon entering the state, furthering the party's advocacy for "social justice and mutual harmony," as stated in the Samajwadi Party's statement.
Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra
The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, which commenced its journey from Thoubal, Manipur, on January 14, has covered over 6,700 kilometers across 110 districts. Spanning 67 days and reaching 100 Lok Sabha constituencies and 337 assembly segments, the yatra follows a hybrid format combining different modes of transport and is set to conclude in Mumbai on March 20.