The problem: The rally can be flagged off by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi only once the youth wing procures 117 cycles, one to represent each Assembly constituency. As Youth Congress office-bearers — many of them sons and relatives of former ministers and MLAs — own luxury cars and not cycles, it is scouting for sponsors.
However, despite Punjab’s thriving cycle industry, no corporate seems to be willing to risk such publicity even though the youth wing is not demanding the fancy kinds — just those with jelly seats for comfort and LED reflectors for safety. But the youth brigade is yet to lose hope.
“Our 108 ambulance activity had delayed the cycle rally. We have approached three cycle companies — Hero, Avon and BSA — for sponsorship. In case we don’t get one, we will buy them. The no-frills cycles would cost anywhere around Rs 5,000 and the designing, including Congress flags and pictures of Rahul, may take the cost up to Rs 5,500,” Punjab Youth Congress president Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary said.
It is not just about 117 cycles with LED reflectors and jelly seats. The logistics of covering the length and breadth of Punjab in 40 days, 40 km a day is yet another challenge.
“We will start from the border districts. We are still mapping the route so that we can travel at least 35 to 40 km before it is dark,” added Chaudhary.
Barring “designer” cycles, there would be no luxury stays. The night halts will be in dharamshalas and gurdwaras. Youth Congress district, block presidents and workers will join in their respective areas in their own cycles.
The gain from the rally may also be in the “loss”. Former state Youth Congress chief Ravneet Bittu had lost 9 kg during a 40-day padyatra across Punjab.
For Chaudhary, who said he has put on 9 kg since becoming the youth wing president, the cycle rally would help gain publicity while losing the flab.