This event took place despite the powerful Church-sponsored election watchdog Mizoram People Forum (MPF)’s agreement with political parties that restricts public processions after the announcement of the poll schedule, and Mizoram is set to go to the polls on November 7.
Leaders of the State Congress Party assert that this event remained within the bounds of the agreement, emphasising that an even larger throng would have swelled the march had it not been for the accord.
Remruata Renthlei, Congress media chairman, stated, “If not for the agreement, thousands of people would have joined the march.”
Rahul Gandhi’s charismatic presence drew not only staunch Congress supporters but also a multitude of admirers from various backgrounds.
“I am not a Congress supporter. But I love Rahul Gandhi. His dedication for the country touches my heart” said a young woman who took a chance to selfie with him.
As he strolled along the route, Rahul warmly waved at the crowds gathered on both sides of the road and from balconies. He extended handshakes and engaged with those eager to meet him, happily posing for selfies.
The march’s path led through the residence of the former formidable leader of the state’s Congress, Lal Thanhawla, who awaited Gandhi by the roadside. The two shared a brief moment, during which Lal Thanhawla presented him with a traditional Mizo cane cap and a satchel.
The Gandhi’s march culminated at Treasury Square, where he delivered a speech during a brief ceremony presided over by the Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF).
In his address, Gandhi criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his perceived “indifference” towards the violence in Manipur, expressing amazement at the disparity in attention between international and domestic issues.
“It’s amazing to me that the Prime Minister and the Government of India are so interested in what is happening in Israel but not interested at all in what is happening in Manipur.”
He recollected his visit to Manipur in June and deplored the ongoing conflict between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities, which he asserted had destroyed the very essence of the state.
“People have been murdered, women have been molested and babies have been killed, but the Prime Minister doesn’t find it important to travel there,” Gandhi added.
Further, Gandhi emphasized that the violence in Manipur is merely “a symptom of the problem,” suggesting that the very idea of India is under attack, with oppression being inflicted upon the nation’s people.
He stated, “What’s happened in Manipur is also an attack on the idea of India,” while underscoring the Congress party’s mission of safeguarding the country’s diverse religious, cultural, linguistic, and traditional heritage.
Arriving in Mizoram from Tripura on a helicopter, Rahul Gandhi embarked on a two-day visit to the state, with plans to also visit Lunglei, the largest town in southern Mizoram, on Tuesday.