Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Rahul’s yatra

Even as the Congress is still facing a gradual extinction across India, the party has taken a leap of faith in launching its 5-month long “unite India march”, under the title of Bharat Jodo yatra with Rahul Gandhi as the focus. Rahul and a group of around 120 Congress workers have been walking all the way from Kanyakumari in the southern tip of India enroute to the northernmost region of Kashmir. A journey of 3,500 km over the course of five months, the march will highlight, in the Congress’ own words, “social polarisation, economic inequalities and political centralisation”. But who will tell the people all this? The news media has become mute and at best dances to certain tunes. The only alternative is to walk with the people and talk to them. And that is what Bharat Jodo Yatra is about. “United we stand, divided we fall” is the famous adage. Congress leader and prime ministerial face, Rahul Gandhi and his team have consistently maintained that the Bharat Jodo Yatra was to unite India and spread awareness about the destruction of the country’s secular, democratic and liberal character. Rahul also spared not effort to explain that the Yatra was non-political and that the Congress was not seeking to politicise the walkathon. That in itself is a contradiction because the Yatra is organised and participated by a political party and seeks to win support from the people. Even if some would tend to believe Rahul’s line that the Yatra was only unite India; the question what kind of unity and under whom? Probably, the Congress wanted to strike two birds with one stone- highlight the present worrisome scenario under the BJP and at the same time, refurbish its leader Rahul Gandhi’s negative image. There is little doubt that Rahul Gandhi has a perception problem. Part of this is of his own making, given his poor skills when speaking to the media. Nobody outside of the Congress will believe that the Yatra is non-political programme. The fact is that the aim of this massive effort is straightforward: to transform Rahul Gandhi’s image. Rahul Does not need to organise a hugely expensive programme that would consume more than three months of his time, just to reinvent his sagging image as a potential alternative to Modi. The yatra seeks to ‘re-connect” with people by hitting the streets. The “re-connect” can only but be through the grass root workers which is lacking since there has been no revamping of the organisation. The Congress focus is against the BJP where, even without any formal Emergency, unity and integrity of the nation is under grave threat. There has been constant attacks on federalism and politics of hate and bigotry apart, the constitutionally covenanted institutions of democratic governance, which keep the country and its people united, are being captured and subdued. The Office of the President, has been reduced to a politically convenient but functionally ineffective dummy. Governors in states and Raj Bhavans are seemingly nothing but an extended arm of the BJP. By the time Rahul Gandhi reaches Kashmir, and if all goes well, he would have met with a cross-section of India. Would that make him wiser? Or would he slip on a banana peel and break a leg? Either or both could happen depending on how the paradox of action spins.

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