THE BHARAT JODO Yatra has been an underlying constant in the politics of the country over the past few months. It has simmered under the surface since September 7, 2022, when former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his fellow Bharat yatris began their long march from Kanyakumari, India’s southern tip. Now, as the yatra nears its culmination in Srinagar, it is building to a crescendo. Surrounding the build-up to the finale are questions on how much of the intended purpose, stated and unstated, has been achieved.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra is the grand old party’s timely move to revive itself. It is about changing the nation’s mood as much as instilling confidence in the Congress cadre and youth associated with it. The yatra has begun with a broad message of harmony, unity and compassion. On social media, videos present Rahul Gandhi as a well-meaning, decent, and compassionate person. The yatra does provide a sense of relief in a toxic and lawless atmosphere. Observing an alternative set of emotions and ethics is a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere ruled by a predatory state gloating over and encouraging masculine majoritarian consent.
The ideological challenge that the Bharat Jodo Yatra has taken on is its toughest test. This is the main reason why many peoples’ movements and organisations like ours have rallied behind this yatra. Any success here would benefit the entire opposition, not just the Congress.
Rahul has claimed that the BJP has spent around Rs5,000-Rs6,000 crore, or may be more, to mar his image.
Also, the yatra has taken place at a time when questions were being asked both within and outside the Congress about Rahul’s leadership. It is felt that Rahul’s effort of having trudged more than 3,000km over the last few months in solidarity with people’s issues has made people look at him differently.