New Delhi: India's Congress Party launched its poll campaign in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, with party chief Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi flagging off a three-day bus yatra -"27 saal UP behaal" - from the party headquarters.
The yatra, aimed at reaching out to the public and highlighting the alleged failure of successive governments in Uttar Pradesh in the past 27 years ever since the Congress is out of power there, will cover a total distance of 600kms.
Top Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is the general secretary in-charge of party affairs in the state, Sheila Dikshit, the party's chief ministerial face in the state, and state unit chief Raj Babbar, along with others will travel in the bus that will halt at various places en route Kanpur.
They will also address a number of public meetings and interact with party workers on the way.
The yatra will cover four districts each day and will halt at Moradabad on the first day, covering important districts in western Uttar Pradesh.
It will then travel to Shahjahanpur, covering Rampur and Bareilly and on the third day it will cover Hardoi, Kannauj and then end at Kanpur.
Azad said the party will aim to form a government in Uttar Pradesh. The party does not believe in dividing people on religious and caste lines and seek to unite them instead, he said.
"Through this yatra we will take to the people, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi's message of unity. Unlike other parties we do not want to divide the voters in the name of religion and community.
"It has been 27 years since Congress has been out of power and during this period, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and (Samajwadi Party) ruled the state and divided the people in the name of community and religion. But we will try to unite everybody and form a government which will not give preference to any particular community," said Azad.
The yatra will be followed by a meeting of UP Congress in Lucknow on July 29 that will be attended by Rahul Gandhi.
"The yatra will speak about the failure and misgovernance of successive governments in the last 27 years," Sanjay Singh, who heads the poll campaign committee of the party in Uttar Pradesh, said.
"We will campaign in such a way that we reach out to every voter at least three or four times," he said.
Echoing similar views, Babbar said they are carrying the message of unity through this yatra.