Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Sunday launched the party’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, or India Justice and Unity March, from Imphal in Manipur.

In this second large-scale outreach programme of the party just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Gandhi will travel 6,200 km across 15 states – Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The march is slated to end on March 20.

Flagging off the march, Gandhi asserted that the Congress will bring back peace and harmony to Manipur, reported PTI.

Manipur has been gripped by ethnic violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities since early May. Over 200 people have been killed since the conflict broke out and nearly 67,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes.

Gandhi also hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying perhaps for the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Manipur was not a part of India.

“We understand the pain that the people of Manipur have been through, we understand the hurt, the sadness,” he added. “We will bring back harmony, peace and affection for which this state was known.”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that Modi came to Manipur only to seek votes and not to share the grief of the residents.

“Modi has time to drive by the sea, take a dip in the sea but has not come to Manipur,” he added. “Modi keeps chanting ‘Ram, Ram’, but he should not do it to seek votes. The BJP mixes religion and politics, and incites people.”

The march route covers nearly 100 Lok Sabha seats. Of the total, 58 are in the Hindi belt states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Rajasthan, according to The Indian Express.

This comes against the backdrop of the Congress facing losses in three of the five states where Assembly elections were held in November.

During the Bharat Jodo Yatra, or Unite India March, the Congress leader had marched from Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India, to Jammu and Kashmir between September 2022 and January 2023.

Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh had said in December that while Gandhi raised the issues of economic inequality, social polarisation and authoritarianism during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra is aimed at highlighting the issues of economic, social and political injustice.