Insisting that the yatra received a huge public response in Rajasthan, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said there should be no double standards.
Accusing the Center of selectively selecting the Bharat Jodo Yatra for its success, the Congress on Wednesday said the BJP was taking out yatras in Karnataka and Rajasthan and asked if Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had also sent letters to their organisers.
Congress leader Pawan Khera’s approach comes after the minister on Tuesday wrote to former party president Rahul Gandhi and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to consider suspending the Bharat Jodo Yatra if Covid protocols cannot be followed.
Echoing his colleague, All India Congress Committee general secretary (communication) Jairam Ramesh asked the BJP not to play politics on the issue.
“I can understand that BJP is scared and has problems after seeing the success of Bharat Jodo Yatra,” Ramesh told reporters.
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Khera, who stated that there are no restrictions on public transport, also asked the government to announce the Covid protocols and said that parties would comply.
“We are wondering why a similar letter has not been sent to Rajasthan BJP president Satish Punia, who is conducting a Janakrosh Yatra there. We understand that there is not much response to that Janakrosh Yatra. There are no people there,” Khera told reporters.
“We understand that there is a huge response to the Bharat Jodo Yatra across the country and there is a huge crowd here,” he added.
The senior Congress leader said that the BJP was taking out another yatra in Karnataka.
“Has the health minister also sent this letter to the Karnataka BJP. We want to know. Today, if you were to travel by air, no one would ask you to wear a mask or use sanitizer,” Khera said.
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Khera asked a series of questions.
“Why only Rahul Gandhi, why Congress party, why only Bharat Jodo Yatra? Have they postponed the Parliament session…? If physical Parliament can be held, Janakrosh Yatra can be held, Karnataka BJP yatra can be held, if mask is not mandatory in air travel, then why take it you have Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra…”
“Please inform the Covid-protocols, we will all follow the Covid-protocols,” he said.
Ramesh said Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushans request to states to ensure genome sequencing of all positive cases was “neither an advice nor a warning”.
However, the minister wrote to Rahul, Ramesh said.
If it’s a serious problem, suspend Parliament, make masks mandatory on flights and ban all public gatherings, Ramesh urged.
Insisting that the Yatra received a huge public response in Rajasthan, the Congress leader said there should not be a double standard. In March 2020, the Congress demanded the imposition of a blockade, but the government did not do so, allegedly because of efforts to oust the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh. When the government fell, a blockade was imposed, he said.
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He asked the BJP to hold discussions and talk to the opposition on the issue.
In his letter to Rahul and Gehlot, Mandaviya said three MPs from Rajasthan — PP Chaudhary, Nihal Chand and Devji Patel — had raised concerns. During the march, they have requested that Covid-protocols, including the use of masks and disinfectants, be strictly followed and that only those who are vaccinated be allowed to participate.
The MPs have also requested the Union minister to ensure that the participants are isolated before and after taking part in the march.
The yatra entered Haryana on Wednesday from Rajasthan on Wednesday morning.
The mass contact initiative of the Congress started from Kanyakumari on September 7 and has covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
(with contributions from the agency)