Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday lashed out at the mainstream national media for ‘boycotting’ the Bharat Jodo Yatra as editors and owners are under pressure.
Addressing a press conference a day after the the Yatra entered the Congress-ruled state, Gehlot said the media has completely failed to fulfil its responsibility as the fourth pillar of democracy, and history will not forgive it for that.
As Gehlot launched his tirade against the media, All India Congress Committee General Secretary (Communication) Jairam Ramesh intervened to defend the journalists present at the venue, saying they should not be blamed as they have been doing their job properly.
However, he also lamented that the coverage of the yatra in the mainstream was not as per their expectations.
Gehlot said the Yatra is getting overwhelming support from across the country and on social media.
“My charge is that the media has boycotted the yatra. Lakhs of people are joining it. But the national media is not supporting it. It means they have nothing to do with social cause for which media exists. It is the fourth pillar, it has its own importance,” he said.
He asked whether the media did not cover veteran BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani’s yatra in 1990.
“It is the duty of the media to tell what has happened. When an accident happens, you cover it. Rahul Gandhi is marching with a positive thought, it is a positive yatra. There is no violence, no hatred. If you are not showing this yatra, you are not fulfilling your duty,” Gehlot said.
“Kaan khol kar sun lo national media wale bhi. state media wale bhi. Itihas aapko maaf nahi karega!” he said.
He said objections were raised when social activist Medha Patkar took part in the yatra but the yatra is open for BJP and RSS people too, and anyone can join it.
The CM said media houses also have “high commands” and journalists too are afraid of transfers and postings.
“I know you guys have transfers and postings and you get afraid in the name of transfer. I know that during the corona period, salaries were slashed from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 70,000 to Rs 30,000. I know this too, that the salaries were not restored after the corona period was over. And I want to tell you that you should tell your owners that we are not going to be afraid, Rahul Gandhi’s path is of truth and non-violence and his caravan has begun,” he told the mediapersons.
“You do your duty and send your coverage (to your office)….but owners and editors are under pressure. I charge that they have boycotted such a big march,” he said.
Rajasthan is the only Congress-ruled state the yatra has entered and will cover about 500 km through Jhalawar, Kota, Bundi, Sawai Madhopur, Dausa and Alwar districts over 17 days before entering Haryana on December 21.
Rahul Gandhi will interact with farmers in Dausa on December 15 and address a public meeting in Alwar on December 19.
The 89th day of the yatra started from Kali Talai in Jhalrapatan, a rural area on the Rajasthan-Madhya Pradesh border.
Gandhi set off the yatra at 6.10 am when the temperature was 13 degrees Celsius, but he was seemingly comfortable walking in a half sleeves T-shirt and trousers teamed with sports shoes, while the other leaders and workers were seen in jackets.
The other notable leaders who accompanied Gandhi were AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal, Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Govind Singh Dotasra, senior leader Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas.
During the yatra, Gandhi interacted with about half a dozen children and waved at a large number of people who participated in the yatra who called it a “fair”. He sipped his morning tea at a dhaba.
After covering about 14 km, the padayatra halted at Baliborda chauraha. It will resume after lunch from Nahardi area at 3.30 pm.
The Congress party tweeted in Hindi asking its members and supporters not to slow down but deliver “something amazing”.
“Bharat Jodo Yatra has saluted the soil of bravery, and Rajasthan, which is a land of histories, will create another history,” the party tweeted.
The yatra entered Rajasthan from Madhya Pradesh on Sunday evening.
While Gehlot shared pictures on Twitter, his former deputy Sachin Pilot took to the micro-blogging platform to convey that the yatra in the state started with a resolve to fulfil hopes and expectations of the youth.
Dotasara tweeted, “The caravan of Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi to tie India in the thread of love, harmony and unity has now set out to create history in Rajasthan.”
The yatra started from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7 and has so far covered the five southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana, and then traversed through Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
It will conclude in Jammu and Kashmir in early February 2023, covering 3,570 km in 150 days.