July 10, 2011, Patna: The much publicized JD (U) yatra to Delhi carrying about 1.25 crore signatures of people demanding special category status for Bihar, started on Sunday from the party office on Beerchand Patel Path here amid drizzle.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar, who has been keeping unwell for over a week, flagged off the yatra. He went up a raised platform outside the party office and waved the party flag amid slogan shouting in support of the demand, which, of late, tops the JD (U) agenda.
Due to weakness, the CM did not make a speech; he just waved to the crowd of party workers. He also hugged state party chief Vashisht Narayan Singh, who is leading the yatra. Some leaders presented him flowers, wishing a speedy recovery.
"We are experts in taking out yatras, but this is the most crucial yatra as it is linked to the future of Bihar," said Nitish, half in zest and half in seriousness. Incidentally, he had embarked on Nyaya Yatra, Vishwas Yatra, Vikas Yatra and other yatras during the last six years.
As many as 122 party leaders, including RCP Singh and Monazir Hasan, both MPs, and Sanjay Singh and Neeraj Kumar, both MLCs, will go up to Delhi with the yatra, while water resources development minister Vijay Kumar Chowdhary and Mahila JD (U) chief Usha Sinha will accompany the yatra up to Buxar.
The party has sought time from the Prime Minister to submit a memorandum to him along with the bundles of signatures in support of the demand. The signatures are bound in 1650 registers, which have been loaded on a bus sans seats.
A luxury bus, painted green and decorated lavishly, is carrying the state party chief. It has two beds and five seats. It is fitted with a big TV screen and has a hydraulic platform which goes up to facilitate him to address people. The convoy of vehicles has altogether 22 SUVs and three more buses to carry the party men.
The journey, billed as 'Hastakshar Gyapan Yatra' will reach Delhi on July 13 after traversing through Ara, Buxar, Gazipur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur and Agra. The leaders will address about three dozen meetings during the yatra.
Initially, JD (U) took up this issue as a part of its political agenda, but soon it struck a chord with people. "Special status is now the demand of the people of Bihar irrespective of their political affiliation,"said JD (U) spokesman Sanjay Singh, MLC.
WRD minister Vijay Chowdhary, who travelled up to Buxar, told TOI after passing through Ara that the yatra was generating huge public response. "Enthusiastic public greeted us and showered flowers,"he said.
At Maner, the leaders stopped to offer 'chadar' at the tomb of 13th century Sufi saint Hazrat Makhdoom Yahya Maneri and sought blessings of the clerics. The cavalcade also stopped at Danapur, Bihta and Shahpur briefly.