Nanded: The sleepy town of Nanded seems even more soporific. Banners and posters about the Bharat Jodo Yatra are everywhere, but the atmosphere is subdued. The action is up the road – many kilometres up, where Rahul Gandhi is supposed to arrive from.
Flags line the highway to Hyderabad, with groups of people all along awaiting the yatra’s arrival. Public transport on the route has been suspended after a point – no buses, autorickshaws or even private vehicles without a Yatra pass. Incidentally, rickshaws here operate entirely without meters.
Nanded is no stranger to visitors, as the Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Gurudwara is a well-known tourist attraction. This time, though, the visitors are not sightseers but enthusiastic pilgrims on a yatra with a difference.
As Mr Gandhi and the accompanying throng proceed towards Nanded, the road comes alive with slogans, songs, pockets of folk performers and lights as the day draws to a close.
Mr Gandhi is taking the day-end break at a point still some way away from Nanded. The town, therefore, is still quiet. The rickshaws ply desultorily, the eateries are somnolent. This is the calm before the storm that is to hit tomorrow when the yatra arrives. Much like one of the slogans that enthusiastic youngsters were shouting: “Desh ki aandhi, Rahul Gandhi.”