The Congress is planning a mega rally to mark the end of the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra in Srinagar on January 30. It is expected to be the biggest political rally in Kashmir’s recent history.
For the first time, leaders of nearly two dozen parties from across the country are likely to share the stage in Srinagar at the event, which is coinciding with the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The public rally is likely to be held at Sher-e-Kashmir International Cricket Stadium in Srinagar where Rahul Gandhi will unfurl the national flag.
Besides, three Congress Chief Ministers, the organisers are expecting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Shiv Sena’s Udhav Thackeray among several big names, including alliance partners of Congress, to attend the concluding function of Bharat Jodo Yatra.
All MPs of the party, Congress Working Committee members and all the state congress presidents would also be attending the function, a source said.
National Conference, PDP, CPIM and some other parties of Jammu and Kashmir have announced their support for Bharat Jodo Yatra. Farooq Abdullah will receive the yatra when it enters Jammu and Kashmir at Lakhanpur on January 19.
Besides Farooq Abdullah, two other former Kashmir Chief Ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti will also join the concluding function.
A massive logistic exercise has been started for the rally. Many hotels have been booked for the visiting leaders.
Sher-e-Kashmir stadium is also the venue for Republic Day function. The party will be allowed to make arrangements for the rally only after the state function is over on January 26.
This is the first time when tricolour will be unfurled in Srinagar at such a major public rally.
The yatra will reach Banihal on January 26 where Rahul Gandhi will unfurl the national flag on Republic Day.
After crossing the nine km long Banihal tunnel, Rahul Gandhi will start his padayatra in the Valley amid sub-zero temperatures and tight security protocol before it culminates in Srinagar on January 30.
Congress leaders have recently met with Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha twice and discussed the plan for the smooth conduct of the yatra.
After recent terrorist attacks and ahead of Republic Day, security arrangements have been increased. Searches and checking have also been intensified in Kashmir.
While the main security challenge comes when the yatra crosses Banihal tunnel, the Jammu leg of the yatra is equally a concern for security forces as the region is a high terrorist radar.
Congress party is mobilising its cadre from across the region to join the yatra. they say, is helping them to rejuvenate as the leaders who had left the party are joining back the party.
Congress had suffered a huge jolt in Jammu and Kashmir after a majority of its leaders joined Ghulam Nabi Azad after he resigned from Congress and formed his own party. But ahead of Bharat Jodo Yatra, many of them have returned to the party fold.