New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said his over 4,000 km Kanyakumari to Kashmir ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ was inspired by party veteran Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s 2003 foot march across Andhra Pradesh.

In a video message on the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister’s 75th birth anniversary, Gandhi said that he was a true leader of the masses and his grit, dedication and commitment to the upliftment and empowerment of the people of the state and India has been a guiding light to many.

“I personally learnt a lot from Rajasekhara Reddy ji. My ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, the walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir was inspired by Rajasekhara Reddy ji’s yatra across Andhra Pradesh. I remember the visuals of Rajasekhara Reddy ji walking through the heat, walking through the rain and walking with the people of Andhra Pradesh,” said the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

“We took some of those ideas and merged them into our ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’,” added Gandhi, who led the over 4,000 km ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ which passed through 12 states and two Union territories between September 2022 to January 2023.

In 2003, Reddy had undertaken a 1,400-km padyatra in Andhra Pradesh. He had led the Congress to a resounding victory a year later, defeating the incumbent Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

Hailing Reddy, Gandhi said that he was a person who lived for the people of Andhra Pradesh.

“It is a tragedy that we lost him and I am absolutely certain that if he was here today, Andhra Pradesh would be a completely different place, it would not be facing the tragedies and the difficulties, it is facing. (YS) Sharmila ji is his daughter…I am confident she is going to take forward Rajasekhara Reddy ji’s legacy and she is going to do it because she has the same sentiment, the same tenacity, the same grit and the same affection and love for the people of Andhra Pradesh that he had,” the former Congress chief said.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also hailed Reddy on his 75th birth anniversary.

“A compassionate and visionary leader, he dedicated his life to the welfare and development of Andhra Pradesh, leaving an enduring impact on the lives of its people through his innovative schemes and programmes,” Kharge said.