Samajwadi Party’s ‘longest cycle rally’ clocks 2,600 km, rolls on
Before this, the longest ‘Desh Bachao, Desh Banao’ bicycle rally spanned 27 days covering a distance of 1,500 km - from Ghazipur in eastern UP to New Delhi - in 2018-19
LUCKNOW Holding ‘chaupals’ in villages, distributing pamphlets, addressing public at street corners and playing party songs all along, the Samajwadi Party’s 2024 edition of ‘Desh Bachao, Desh Banao’ bicycle rally has already become the longest ever - both in terms of days and distance.
After being rolled out from Prayagraj on August Kranti Diwas (August 9), the rally entered its 37th day and clocked 2,600km on Thursday.
With the ‘bicycle’ as its election symbol, bicycle rallies are one of the most preferred modes of pre-election and election campaigns of the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party. In the past, the party’s founding president late Mulayam Singh Yadav, several prominent leaders and SP president Akhilesh Yadav rode bicycles as part of the party’s campaigns.
Before this, the longest ‘Desh Bachao, Desh Banao’ bicycle rally spanned 27 days covering a distance of 1,500 km - from Ghazipur in eastern UP to New Delhi - in 2018-19 in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“This time, we aim to cover a distance of over 25,000km in two phases –spanning all the 80 Lok Sabha and 403 assembly constituencies in the state. The first phase that began on August 9, will end on Netaji Mulayam Singh Yadav’s birth anniversary in his ancestral village-Saifai (Etawah) on November 22. The second phase will start on Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar’s death anniversary on December 6 and will tentatively end on Republic Day (January 26) at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi,” said Abhishek Yadav, president of Samajwadi Party Lohia Vahini - the youth wing of the SP. Abhishek is leading the cycle rally.
Traversing through Prayagraj, Kaushambi, Chitrakoot, Banda, Fatehpur, Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh, Amethi, Sultanpur, Ambedkarnagar, and Faizabad, the rally comprising nearly 100 cyclists is currently covering Basti.
The cyclists have a support vehicle and an audio system vehicle as part of the entourage. The support vehicle has some bicycle repair kits, a cycle mechanic, water, and refreshments while the audio-visual vehicle is equipped with speakers and a public address system to help cyclists make speeches and play SP songs along the way.
“As August Kranti Diwas is the day when freedom fighters had called for the end of the British rule in India, we launched the rally on the day as we demand the ouster of the BJP rule,” said Abhishek.
SP’s youth leaders and workers are the main riders, but in different Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha constituencies, party office-bearers and former legislators are also participating for some distances.
Through a cordless mic connected to the audio vehicle, Abhishek and other cyclists have also been addressing people on the streets while pedalling their cycles. In some legs of the rally, women party workers also join the entourage.
The cyclists are talking “about the pain people are suffering due to oppression, injustice and terror of BJP rule and the problems faced by PDA (Pichada, Dalit, Alpsankhyak), poor, farmers, women etc. and sensitise people about the policies and philosophies of the SP and tell them about the public welfare work done by the previous SP government. The cycle yatra will also campaign for a caste census.”
Riding mostly between 10am and 7pm, the cyclists are covering about 70 km a day. The party’s local units take care of food and night stays for the contingent.