Rahul Gandhi’s ‘BHARAT JODO YATRA’, Kanyakumari to Kashmir, aims at rejuvenation of the party and re-establishing a missing connect with grassroots workers; hence the party’s think tank claims that it has got the potential of creating an impact like historical Yatras of L.K. Advani in 1990 (Rath Yatra to arouse sentiments of Hindutva) followed by Murli Manohar’s Yatra in 14 states to further mobilise Hindus on Ram temple issue, Kanshi Ram’s nationwide campaign (creating the awareness amongst the Dalits and backwards about their rights to fight against supremacy of higher castes in the system) and Jagan Reddy’s statewide journey after 19 month jail term leading to helm of affairs as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.
In this backdrop, the analysts do admit that Rahul’s 150 day, 3,570 Km Yatra can be billed as Congress Party’s biggest mass contact programme since independence which may re-energise the demoralised workers besides creating confidence amongst people whose woes and survival problems are being highlighted during rallies which will be addressed in 12 states and two union territories – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh,Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya
Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and finally Jammu Kashmir. State units of Bihar and Jharkahnd will organise their Yatras as Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra will not pass through these two states.
Timing of Yatra
Keeping in view the dwindling fortunes of Congress in the entire country, Bharat Jodo Yatra may act as a ‘SANJEEVINI’ to the path of revival of the party which is being described by senior leaders as a ‘Turning Point’ in India’s political history as Rahul is highlighting the issues of common people who are reeling under skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, GST imposed even on curd, ghee, milk etc. , high prices of petrol and diesel, crores of educated youths facing unemployment problem, industry is struggling to come out of Covid19 negative impact of Covid19, farmers’ survival problem, a dangerous widening divide in the society to win elections, etc. Due to lack of Pan India presence, no political party could launch a nationwide campaign to lambast the Centre for its failures hence Rahul Gandhi’s efforts through this Yatra may divert the attention from non- issues to people’s woes. It may be recalled that 3000 km statewide journey of Jagan Mohan Reddy had convinced the people that he is highlighting their problems hence they reposed faith in his leadership and his YSR Congress Party won 144 seats out of 175 during 2019 assembly elections besides having clean sweep in Lok Sabha elections thereby negating Modi wave. BJP’s fortunes changed dramatically after 10,000 km Advani’s Rath Yatra though he has been relegated to background and enjoying the status of Unsung Hero in present powerful set up at the center. Congress leader Y S Rajasekhar Reddy had undertaken a 1,400-km padyatra in April 2003 and later led the Congress to a resounding victory a year later thereby defeating the incumbent Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Rahul’s twin purposes: Political observers opine that Rahul’s yatra may serve twin purpose. First, it may mobilise party leaders and workers for 2024 Lok Sabha elections which will decide the fate of the party. Second, rebellion in the party has attracted the attention of party workers who may repose their faith in the leadership of Rahul Gandhi though he has opted out of the race of regular president hence Gandhi family loyalist, Ashok Gehlot, chief minister, Rajasthan seems to be frontrunner for this post which will settle this issue and weaken BJP’s tirade against the family rule .
Stark contrast: One big take away from Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatta and yatras undertaken in the past pertains to emergence of social media which has got its reach to crores of youths and even villagers in the country. Rahul’s Yatra is reaching to a big segment of the society and even internationally through YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and TV channels including biased channels hostile to congress. Thousands of budding journalists have got their local YouTube channels besides cable transmissions which are viewed by rural people besides lakhs of daily, weekly, fortnightly language newspapers of every district and state. They are covering this Yatra as issues of public importance are being highlighted which have broken the backbone of the common man. Such coverage was unthinkable during earlier Yatras. Congress has learnt from past blunder of not effectively countering BJP on social media hence it was prompt in lambasting the Saffron party over its criticism of Rahul’s T Shirt costing Rs 41,000. Congress reminded BJP of Modi’s expensive suit of Rs 10 lakh and imported glasses of Rs 1.50 lakh besides asking BJP Twitter handler… Should we discuss it?
Yatra may get better response in Hindi belt
The yatra has already commenced from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and it will move northwards, passing through Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Nilambur, Mysuru, Bellary, Raichur, Vikarabad, Nanded, Jalgaon, Indore, Kota, Dausa, Alwar, Bulandshahr, Delhi, Ambala, Pathankot and Jammu, before culminating in Srinagar. As per reports, it may get better response in northern states which are so crucial in view of cadre strength of the Congress which may send better signal at national level.
Experts opine that ruling BJP is bound to be upset with Rahul’s attempt of creating the pro people image and establishing direct connect with party cadres though it has dismissed it as nonevent which may not help in the long run as it could be far from reality. People may appreciate one thing that there is at least one leader of the national party who has embarked upon the Yatra to highlight their woes which are being ignored and conveniently put under the carpet.
(K.S.TOMAR is a national columnist and political analyst)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.