This was the first time the 46-year-old leader undertook such an extensive campaign that lasted 26 days. During the course of his political career, which began in 2004 when he got elected to the 14th Lok Sabha from Amethi, Gandhi has never led such a no-break exercise lasting for almost four weeks.
The maximum time he has spent in a poll-bound state was during the 2012 assembly elections—again, in the politically-vital UP. On that occasion, he addressed back-to-back rallies in Gorakhpur, Deoria, Ballia, Mau and Azamgarh districts in five days at a stretch. The entire campaign from November 2011 to February 2012 saw Gandhi addressing 211 public meetings in total across UP through the course of 48 days. It was a record of sorts at the time, but the party failed to cash in, and ended up winning just 28 seats in the 403-member state assembly.
This time, Gandhi’s yatra started from Deoria in Gorakhpur division on September 6. He travelled 3,438 km covering 48 districts and 141 assembly constituencies. UP, along with Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, will go to polls in February-March next year.
Gandhi also held 26 khat sabhas (interaction with farmers on cots), 26 road shows and collected 75 lakh application forms from farmers seeking loan waiver. “Our target is to collect 2 crore forms from Uttar Pradesh by October 31,” Congress spokesman RPN Singh said.
Before concluding his yatra, Gandhi will pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat, former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri at Vijay Ghat and Sangharsh Sthal of late Chaudhary Devi Lal, a prominent farmer leader and founder of the Indian National Lok Dal.