Yatra: Optics & Opportunities
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Yatra: Optics & Opportunities

October 15, 2022

Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra (Unite India March), led by Rahul Gandhi, is on the move. The Congress party’s grand intent of ‘Bharat Jodo’ feels more like ‘Congress Jodo’, considering the internal fractures within the party.

 If Rahul Gandhi is serious about uniting a diverse nation like ours, he should be rabidly secular. By keeping mum as a priest in Kerala mocked the Hindu religion, Rahul lost a golden opportunity to secure his secular credentials. 

Now, Congress is well within its right to have a Bharat Jodo Yatra, but to equate it to Dandi March is ignorant. Telangana Congress President A. Revanth Reddy equated the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi with the Dandi March of                    Mahatma Gandhi.

 The Dandi March of 1930 was a 386-kilometre-long march in scorching heat led by a frail 62-year-old Gandhiji, who wore just slippers, a dhoti and a shawl. This march started the Civil Disobedience Movement, leading a nation to freedom by non-violent means.

 Rahul has so far walked about 1,000 kilometres. He has comfortable sleeping arrangements, a new pair of branded sports shoes every couple of weeks and occasionally a two-day rejuvenating holiday at a resort and spa, as he did in Mysuru. So, comparing Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi to Gandhiji’s Dandi March is ridiculous.

 Most modern political yatras are about creating ‘optics’ for political gains and not so much for public good.

 In 1990, when the then BJP President L.K. Advani was set to go on a padayatra to garner support for the Ayodhya movement, the late Pramod Mahajan pointed out that if they went on foot, it would take too long. To this, Advani asked, “A jeep yatra, then?”

 But the jeep yatra didn’t have the visual connect or appeal. So, the ever-so-smart Mahajan suggested they take a minibus and redesign it as a rath!  A perfect visual appeal if you want to attract a fanatic.

 Similarly, during this Bharat Jodo Yatra, photos of Rahul Gandhi giving a speech in the rain, playing with children, carrying them, speaking to older people, etc., are heart-warming visuals meant to change the mind of fence-sitters on voting day.

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 This yatra is important for Rahul Gandhi and Congress. It may be Bharat Jodo Yatra, but it is Congress Bachao Yatra.

Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had gone on yatras after the Congress party’s poll debacles in 1977 and 1989, respectively. They didn’t win the subsequent elections, but there are exceptions.

It worked for BJP. In 1990, when L.K. Advani went on his Rath Yatra, BJP had 85 seats. In 1991, it was 120.

 In recent times, yatras have worked well for certain politicians. In 1983, Chandrasekhar, as President of the Janata Party, did a 4,000-km-long padayatra from Kanyakumari to Gandhiji’s samadhi at Rajghat in New Delhi. He went on to become the Prime Minister in 1990.

In 2003, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy embarked on a 1500-km, two-month padayatra. He became CM the next year!

Even his son Jagan Mohan Reddy deployed the same strategy. He walked 3,500 kms through 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh in 340 days. Two years later, in 2019, Jagan was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.

 Ironically, Jagan defeated a man who also had come to power after a yatra. N. Chandrababu Naidu, the leader of  Telugu Desam Party, had undertaken a 1,700-km-long padayatra in 2013 and in 2014 he was elected the State’s Chief Minister.

 How can we forget the ‘Bangalore to Ballari’ padayatra led by Siddharamaiah in 2010? The yatra was against the BJP-ruled Government’s failure to curb illegal mining in Ballari.

The yatra established Siddharamaiah as a Congress leader and made him acceptable among Congress workers. Three years later, in 2013, Siddharamaiah was the CM.

 Similarly, will this Bharat Jodo Yatra rejuvenate the fortunes of Rahul Gandhi? So far, yatras haven’t been helpful to Rahul.

 In 2015, Rahul Gandhi had the ‘Kisan padayatra’ in Maharashtra and Telangana. There was no advantage to Congress in either States.

 In 2016, he undertook a ‘Deoria to Dilli’ Yatra. Rahul travelled 3,400 kms and visited 141 Assembly Constituencies hoping to end the Congress party’s 27-year exile from power in UP. But alas, in 2017 election, Congress won only seven UP Assembly seats.

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 In 2020, he began a three-day ‘Kheti Bachao Yatra’ in Punjab to fight the controversial farm laws. But the agitation was hijacked from him. Now AAP rules Punjab.

Karnataka BJP on the Defence?

Yatras may not have been fruitful for Rahul Gandhi, but we are glad he came to Karnataka because the Karnataka BJP needed a jolt.

 Just a few days after Rahul Gandhi had passed through Mysuru, an advertisement appeared in all the State Newspapers. The Ad read: “Mr. Rahul Gandhi, after Veerendra Patil, Devaraj Urs & S. Bangarappa, which other Kannadiga leader is your party going to humiliate next?”

 What an ill-timed, random and uncalled-for advertisement?

 The Congress did not remove Veerendra Patil, Devaraj Urs and Bangarappa to install a Chief Minister from Delhi; they replaced them with another Kannadiga. So where is the question of humiliating a Kannadiga?

 Where was the need for this advertisement at all? Is BJP scared that Rahul Gandhi’s yatra won over some voters who are sick of Karnataka BJP’s deep-seated corruption?

As if this wasn’t embarrassing enough, the Karnataka BJP launched their own yatra — ‘Jana Sankalpa Yatra’. Why?

Worse, it chose the same old tainted leaders to lead this yatra instead of more articulate, hard-working and untainted young leaders like Pratap Simha and Tejasvi Surya.

If BJP is not bothered about the Bharat Jodo Yatra, as the CM said, then ignore Rahul Gandhi and talk about the development works you are doing for the State.

 Yatras can turn a leader’s and a party’s fortune around but for that to happen, there needs to be the right leader and the purpose must                                                       be sincere.

Rahul Gandhi’s yatra may be too long and whatever goodwill he garnered may fade away  due to voters’ short-term memory and his party’s unshakable ‘appeasement politics.’

 But for now, we are glad the Karnataka BJP is rattled enough by his Bharat Jodo Yatra. Unfortunately, it didn’t encourage them from doing visible development works and giving us a corruption-free governance. Instead, it drove them to do a copycat yatra with old cats.

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4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Yatra: Optics & Opportunities”

  1. Dr. MP Divakar says:

    Your statement “…but to equate it to Dandi March is ignorant” is rather too kind. You should have said it is downright stupid as it truly is. Masquerading under the “Gandhi” surname as though the entire Nehru clan has something to do with the great one is one thing. But to put on a charade of a padayatra is pathetic. He hasn’t walked all the way as one can easily do the math. It takes one hour to walk 4.5km for a healthy person at medium pace. As a long distance backpacker, I have walked 24miles in one day and that took 12hours including breaks (average 2mi/hr). As they say, one can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

    To an apolitical observer like me, this Cong-I drama of “Bharat Jodo” comes across as “Bharat Todo” because that is what it truly is. As you noted, he missed the opportunity to come out as a true secular person but he chose to stay silent when a Christian missionary was badmouthing the majority Hindu religion.

    Of course, there are diehard Cong-I supporters and to them he is their god. They will lay prostrate in front of him or sing praise to his tyrannical grandmother who ruled with an iron fist as PM. To the rest of the country he is a damn good reason to keep reelecting BJP.

  2. Raj Kumar says:

    This All Shows Editor is Confused the Methodology Adopted by Congress .a One sided Support for the Ruling BJP!

  3. Sree Sheila says:

    Apt and nice writeup , Divakar.

  4. Thirthahalli Eashwar says:

    Hello Divakar
    Brandishing a title -a sign of vanity professing to be clever and informed, you mention |Congress-I, a party which existed only in 1970s after the Congress split. Any one with a basic degree and average intelligence would have known! In case, you are time-warped in 1970s, it is now simply CONGRESS,. This alone destroys your credibility, and brainpower!! One should ignore the other meaningless rant of yours.
    As for @Vikram, he has the propensity , like Mr Ganapathy, of not doing his research properly The 62-old year Gandhiji was not frail. That Dandi walk took 24 days. He rested well in between. Remember , what Sarojini Naidu said of Gandhiji: “”It costs a lot of money to keep this man in poverty.” . Also, the diet Gandhiji had was well balanced and rich see:https://www.dharmadispatch.in/history/the-cost-of-feeding-mohandas-gandhi-ask-sarat-chandra-bose Time to correct some myths.
    If the destructive effect of adding salt to food , as we know now, was known then, this march would have been seen as futile.
    I am not a supporter of Rahul Gandhi, but he, had hit an approach of a ‘padayatra’ tom draw attention to the BJP shortcomings, has scared the BJP. Unlike the much misunderstood and ignorant prattle of this @Divakar, Rahul Gandhi considers his ‘padayatra ‘to be symbolic to draw attention to the woes of the BJP, whose regime has become intolerably corrupt.
    The reference to MP Simha by @Vikram make one laugh, as he is an eternal attention seeker, latching on to issues that gives him publicity/. He will condemn Mysore to the mercy of Tamils and Malayalees, who are settling here thick and fast in large numbers, with his strong support of links to Kerala and Tamil Nadu, suicidal development plans, his enthusiasm to expand Mysore airport to bring in more non-Mysoreans , his proposed Hassan -Kodagu -Kerala highway , which was condemned by every one in Hassan. Poor quality journalism by @Vikram.


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