Rahul Gandhi - Bharat Jodo Yatra

It will not be wrong to say the Indian national Congress or the Congress party in India is in trouble. Despite its monumental claims of being the only alternative to the rising BJP, its recent electoral defeats tell the sad story of its political coffers being completely empty. The question is will Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra create the change of fate?

Party ‘elders and the talent’ are leaving in droves. With the exception of two – Manish Tewary and Shashi Tharoor, others of any reckoning who still remain in the party will die with the party. They either lack total confidence or know their political careers and survival is based completely and purely them being seen associated with the Gandhis. They fear any move away from the Gandhis and their constituents will simply desert them.

But it will also not be wrong to say, that a healthy Congress party is the only outfit which can gather enough mettle to show itself – as a national alternative to the BJP come 2024 national elections.

Rahul Gandhi’s 3,570-km-long Bharat Jodo Yatra, which started from Kanyakumari on September 7, should be seen then, a step in the right direction. Although one would pray to the Almighty for wisdom allocation to the minders, Rahul Gandhi’s resolve to undertake such a journey deserves appreciation.

Just as some were getting excited to see some potential fight in 2024 rather than the national election as one-horse race (Modi being the one), the Rajasthan happened.

Gandhi loyalists Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot took their gloves off and it all became clumsy. The melodrama lasted days taking the wind completely out of the Bharat Jodo Yatra sails.

But to his credit Rahul Gandhi was unnerved. He kept on attracting crowds. There are stories of people running bare feet to meet him, to touch him and just to catch a glimpse of him.

The euphoria, according to the loyalists is unparalleled.

The minders are perhaps doing it tough as well. If Rahul played the ‘people’s politician’, stopping at street shops, tasting local delicacies, interacting with commoners, entertaining children, rowing snake boats, he also met some controversial figures giving the BJP and its supporters ammunition to label him as being divisive.

The initiative is a good medium to connect with people but its success is yet to be conclusively assessed. Is it a ‘flop show’? like many on the other side of politics claim it to be. The answer cannot be a definitive yes.

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A politician’s career depends on his appeal. The crowds showing up at his march, unless everything is immaculately stage managed for the media, will refute the effort being a flop show.

The only question is – and it is an important one – will it translate into the electoral success the Congress requires in 2024?

The answer again is not definitive yes.

The problem for the party is the choice of issues it chooses to take up both inside and outside Parliament. That establishes party’s complete lack of vision and farsightedness. If one were to look at its performance as a political party, it has never offered productive and creative solutions to India’s problems. Instead, it chooses to attack Modi establishment for being – ‘pro Hindu’ and ‘pro corporate’ agenda for everything.

On television screens it may not look as pernicious but it must hurt a portion of innocent majority Hindu majority who, ever since Modi’s arrival, now feel they also need to be looked after by their leaders. They have woken up to the fact that the autopilot system put in place since India’s independence has been favouring everyone else except them.

Thus, like fools, they continue to push the agenda that favours the BJP. No wonder many of its own leaders have started feeling disillusioned and moved on.

”The Congress appears like a leftover party, one abandoned by its leaders and cadre. The think-tank built by Rahul Gandhi has migrated to the BJP, including the likes of Tom Vadakkan and Jyotiraditya Scindia,” Dr Sebastian Paul, former MP from Ernakulam and Supreme Court advocate told the India Today.

The other problem the party has is the conundrum of how to choose a rubber stamp president who can be robotically remote-controlled by the family. They thought Gehlot could be the one but his political muscle of 90 plus MLAs perhaps scared the hell out of their wits and a mechanism was engineered to put him back in his place.

If one were to look closely at the party, one would find that the only people seeing it as one, are the people whose political careers depend on it rather than the voters. That is a real tragedy no one in the party or the family seems to be willing to accept, let alone address.

Sebastian Paul says the Yatra “is a political picnic … When the yatra ends, the Congress will be left all the more divided. The presidential poll will seal the fate, with more leaders abandoning the party.”

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