Nagpur: Top Congress leadership, including party chief Rahul Gandhi, has converged at the historic Sevagram Ashram in Wardha in Maharashtra amid indications that it will launch its 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign on Tuesday, coinciding with Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, party officials said.
Rahul Gandhi, his mother Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other party leaders will pay homage at the Bapu Kutir in the Sevagram Ashram on Tuesday morning, attend a prayer meeting and then hold a special Congress Working Committee meeting at the nearby Mahadev Bhavan.
Rahul Gandhi will also garland a statue of Mahatma Gandhi near the District Collectorate, take out a foot march (padyatra) and address a rally at the Circus Ground in the town.
An AICC leader said that the events are significant as it was the venue where the CWC met in 1942 under Gandhiji’s leadership to launch the ‘Quit India Movement’ of August 8, 1942, which ultimately saw the collapse of the British rule after five years.
“We are now celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Bapu and also the 70th year of India’s independence. So, we are holding a CWC meeting here,” AICC Secretary and legislator Harshawardhan Sakpal told the media.
Addressing the media, AICC Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala launched an attack on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
He alleged that the RSS and Pakistan are “on the same page in propagating hatred, divisions and violence among the people”, and that the BJP government was engaging in polarising people on communal, caste and regional lines.
“During the British Raj, the country’s plurality was under threat because of ‘divide-and-rule policy’… now, the policies of the BJP government are on similar lines.
“As the country secured freedom under the stewardship of Mahatma Gandhi, we will free the country of the BJP under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership,” Surjewala said.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that the world’s biggest ‘charkha’ or spinning wheel will be unveiled outside Sevagram Ashram complex.
The approximately 31-feet X 19-feet charkha will be bigger than that installed at the Delhi airport, he said.
Mungantiwar said that government will get prepared 206 saplings of a ‘peepal’ tree, the sapling of which was planted here in 1936 by Gandhiji, and plant them at 206 Martyrs Memorials in Maharashtra to mark the sesquicentennial.
The government also plans to release 101 prisoners from various jails, including 28 from Mumbai’s Arthur Road Central and Raigad’s Aloja Central Jail on Tuesday.
Gandhiji had spent around 10 years at the Sevagram Ashram, or the ‘Village of Service’.
The ‘Bapu Kutir’, the tiny hut where he lived, is now a mecca for students, academics, researchers, domestic and foreign tourists and Gandhians.
The Sevagram Ashram is spread over 400 acres and houses other prominent institutions like Nai Talim Samiti, Mahatma Gandhi Seva Sangh, Akhil Bharatiya Seva Sangh and Kasturba Health Society.