Worried and troubled by the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ being perpetrated across the country by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the INDIA bloc — comprised of members of the national Opposition — was scheduled to take out a peace padyatra, ‘I Am Gandhi (‘Main Bhi Gandhi’) in Mumbai on Monday to mark the 154th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation.
Varsha Gaikwad, Maharashtra Congress president, along with top leaders of the INDIA bloc, slammed the incidents of hate that are occuring frequently in Mumbai city and the entire state of Maharashtra.
“The INDIA bloc will spread Gandhiji’s teachings of “Love, Peace and Goodwill” among the people through the foot-march today. While condemning these incidents, there is also a strong need to inculcate goodwill in the society,” Gaikwad said.
Thousands of people are expected to participate in the ‘I Am Gandhi’ foot-march which is being organised on the twin birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. It will be taken out from Metro Cinema to Mantralaya, Gaikwad added.
Among those who will join the padyatra will be INDIA bloc constituents like Samajwadi Party State President and MLA Abu Azmi, former MLA and Nationalist Congress Party leader Vidya Chavan, NCP City President Rakhi Jadhav, Aam Aadmi Party City President Preeti Sharma-Menon, CPI’s Prakash Reddy, DMK’s State Chief A. Meeran, CPM’s Shailendra Kamble, Peasant and Workers Party leader Samya Korde, JD(U) President Amit Jha, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Mohammad Iqbal, and several others.
Apart from political leaders, secularists and Gandhians like G. G. Parikh, Tushar Gandhi, Feroze Mithiborwala, Guddi S. L., Ram Puniyani, Irfan Engineer, Sandhya Gokhale, Niranjani Shetty, Prerna Desai, Ali Bhojani and civil society activists will also participate in the march. The gathering comes ahead of the upcoming civic, assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, Gaikwad opined that hate incidents — in various forms — are on the rise throughout the country. It could be something as seemingly-mundane as denying housing to Marathi people or the thrashing of a Marathi boy in the city, for which the RSS and BJP are responsible.
“We flay BJP’s duplicity and such incidents,” Gaikwad said. “When PM Narendra Modi goes abroad, he bows before Gautam Buddha and the Mahatma but back home, his followers hurl slurs, disrespect the national flag and the National Anthem and glorify the killers of Mahatma Gandhi,” she added.
According to the social activists, the padyatra is based on the theme ‘Nafraton Bharat Chhodo, Mohabbat se Dilonko Jodo, Bharat Jodo, Bharat Jodo’. It propagates the ideals of brotherhood, universal peace and communal harmony, which were also close to Mahatma Gandhi.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 into a Gujarati Hindu Modh Bania family in Porbandar (also known as Sudamapuri), a coastal town on the Kathiawar Peninsula and then part of the small princely state of Porbandar in the Kathiawar Agency of the British Raj. His father, Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi (1822–1885), served as the dewan (chief minister) of Porbandar state. His family originated from the then village of Kutiana in what was then Junagadh State.