Crossing the enemy lines

Bastion breached: Cong leaders who took up the Reddys challenge reach destination

Crossing the enemy lines

Here we come!: Opposition leader in the Assembly Siddaramaiah who is leading the Congress padayatra, waves to the crowd as they enter Bellary district at the Karnataka-Andhra border on Sunday.

For the Congress leaders it was sweet victory, considering that the yatra was undertaken in the backdrop of dire warnings on the floor of the Assembly by the Reddy brothers and their cohorts against Congressmen entering their domain, and the hard toil over the last two weeks to reach the destination.

However, the party leaders have decided to declare their formal entry into Bellary on Monday, when they are scheduled to reach Bellary city in a procession.

The Congress leaders, including R V Deshpande and Motamma joined Yakshagana artistes in a dance as they stepped into Bellary. “We have successfully entered Bellary by padayatra. And, we will also successfully end the illegal mining in the district,” declared the leaders as they were welcomed by Seva Dal workers.

 Surrounded by a large number of supporters, a jubilant Siddaramaiah waved to the crowd which raised slogans against illegal mining and the Reddy brothers.

The marchers left Rampura in Chitradurga early in the morning, to pass peacefully through D Hirehal and Obulapuram in Andhra Pradesh, where the ministers from Bellary have mining leases. In Obulapuram, the Congress workers raised slogans against illegal mining, pointing at a hillock where iron ore was mined.

Police personnel were deployed in large numbers at the village to prevent any untoward incident. Unlike in other places, here there was no reception to the leaders. Even the leaders did not address the people in this sparsely populated tiny village.

In the last 15 days, the padayatra has grown in numbers. Nearly 50,000 people, including the Congress leaders and workers, took part in the yatra on Sunday to enter Bellary district. The padayata had spread over to 10 kms with leaders walking in
separate groups towards their destination.

Siddaramaiah actually had a tough time in completing his walk as he was surrounded by his supporters in huge numbers.

People from the local area would come in groups to either greet or to felicitate him. In many places, people forced him to pose with them for photographs. Jostled by the crowd, he was able to walk for only five km from Rampura till 2 pm despite starting the padayatra at 9 am.

By that time, other party leaders had reached D Hirehal, where they took the lunch break. In the small AP town, Siddaramaiah was felicitated by the Andhra Pradesh Kuruba Samaja. He could have lunch only around 4 pm at D Hirehal.

The leaders began entering Bellary district limits from 6 pm onwards. They walked further down to Halkundi, seven km from Bellary city, where arrangements had been made for their stay at the Veerabhadreshwara Mutt. Siddaramaiah and his supporters arrived at the Mutt at around 9 pm.

Later, the senior leaders held a Congress Legislature Party meeting to chalk out plans for the convention.

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