Mangalore: A ‘Padayatra’ for harmony and also to spread the word that Congress is secular was flagged off by senior leader and also the candidate for the Lok Sabha Seat -Janardhan Poojary at Thokuttu junction at 9am today, 14 March 2014. Ministers UT Khader, Ramanath Rai and Mangalore South constituency MLA J R Lobo, along with other top leaders of the party took part in the flag off ceremony. The police force provided good security throughout the Padayatra, to avoid any untoward incident.

Starting from Thokuttu, the ‘Padayatra’ took the streets of Mangaladevi, Jeppu, Kankanady and culminated around 12.30pm at the Balmatta Shanti Nilaya grounds. Speaking to UT Khader, he said, “Until now the ‘Padayatra’ has been successful. We want to spread the word that there cannot be development without communal harmony. Through this Padayatra we want to spread the word that Congress is secular, and that we don’t want to create hate in the society”.

The ‘Padayatra’ took a break in the afternoon, since the Muslim brethren had to go to the Mosque for Namaz. The ‘Padayatra’ will continue further from Shanti Nilaya ground-Balmatta at 3pm this afternoon, and will proceed through the city streets, towards Kavoor and culminate at Kuloor for a mega gathering to take place at 6pm, where prominent Congress leaders will address the crowd.

Speaking to MLA J R Lobo, while he was wiping his sweaty face and freshening up after a long hectic walk, he said, “Over 1000 people have joined in this important harmony Padayatra. With the recent communal violence in Kalladka leading to a blame game between Congress and BJP, we decided to organize this ‘Padayatra’ to showcase the ‘communal harmony propagated by the party’. There will be similar kind of Padayatras in Bantwal on 15 March; Moodbidri on 16 March; Beltangady on 17 March; Puttur on 18 March; and Sullia on 19 March.”

He further said that the Padayatras will spread the word that the Congress is secular and is needed to maintain communal harmony in the district. People should know that Congress has always been a bridge between Hindus and Muslims and other faiths. We want to show the community that Congress does not believe in starting violence and hatred among communities and in the society.

According to Congress office source, the party has chosen three spokespersons from three different religions in keeping with the “secular principles” of the party- they are Congress leaders Ivan D’souza, K Tharanath Shetty and Shahul Hameed who will speak to give equal opportunities for all faiths in the party.