Srinagar: As Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) draws to a close in Jammu and Kashmir, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday, amid stringent security, unfurled the tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar where 75 years ago his grandfather and first Prime Minister of independent India had unfurled the national flag.
However, the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders who had joined him in the yatra for the past few days were conspicuous with their absence at the unfurling event of the tricolour at the unfurling event. When Gandhi had reached Kashmir with the BJY, former chief minister and NC Vice President Omar Abdullah joined him at Banihal and walked besides him in a Tshirt despite the freezing cold.
When the BJY reached Awantipora in south Kashmir, another former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti along with her mother Gulshan Nazir and Iltija Mufti had joined Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the BJY.
Earlier, in Jammu, three-time chief minister and NC Patron Farooq Abdullah had also joined Gandhi’s BJY.
After resuming the BJY from Pantha Chowk on Sunday, Gandhi took a break at Sonawar and then drove to the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) headquarters at the Maulana Azad Road.
He then went to the historic clock tower of Lal Chowk to unfurl the national flag.
During the unfurling of the flag, sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accompanied Gandhi but the top NC and PDP leaders were missing from the event.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP)’s J&K unit, Ashok Koul expressed disappointment that political leaders like Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti did not join Rahul Gandhi in unfurling the national flag, but reiterated the party’s focus on addressing anti-national activities.
During the BJY in Kashmir, the Congress leaders were provided security, which is usually reserved for a prime ministerial visit.
All roads leading to Lal Chowk were sealed off since last night and no vehicular movement was allowed.
Shops, business establishments and the weekly flea market were closed as part of the security drill for the flag unfurling by the former Congress president.
On Monday, Gandhi will unfurl the tricolour at the party headquarters on the Maulana Azad Road here following which a public rally would be held at the Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium, for which 23 opposition political parties have been invited.
However, sources said leaders’ of only 12 opposition parties would attend the concluding function of BJY.
Among major political parties skipping the concluding ceremony of the yatra include Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, and Telugu Desam Party.
MK Stalin-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Tejashwi Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena, CPI(M), CPI, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Kerala Congress, Farooq Abdullah-led NC, Mehbooba Mufti's PDP, and Shibu Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) are set to attend the concluding function in Srinagar.