It has been 50 days since Rahul Gandhi’s much publicised coming of age, in the form of Bharat Jodo Yatra, ended.
The Congress party had been claiming the yatra to be a success. According to them, the 'apolitical' yatra energised the party workers and showed Rahul Gandhi as a "hands-on politician" and a “thinker”.
However, less than two months later, the state of the Congress makes it plain that the yatra project did little to improve the party's fortunes or the cadre's spirits.
Routed In Northeast
The party has shied away from speaking about the political impact of the yatra. But, for any political machinery to work at its best, electoral success is a necessary requirement.
So, despite what the Congress says, it would have wanted yatra’s success to translate into electoral dividends.
Congress’s complete rout in the three north-eastern states, Tripura, Nagaland, and Meghalaya, however, point out that electorally, Gandhi’s yatra failed to revive voters’ confidence.
Despite anti-incumbency in Tripura, the BJP returned as the government, and the Congress was relegated to the fourth position with only three seats.
In Meghalaya, the Congress went from being the single largest party with 21 seats in 2018 to only winning five seats in the recent elections, largely due to rebels defecting to other parties.
Nagaland was also a disappointment for the Congress, where it failed to win a single seat for the second time in a row.
No Elections At Plenary Session Disappoints Delegates
Despite all the talk of restructuring the organisation and improve internal democracy, the Congress party has failed to deliver on its commitment.
Earlier, the election for the Congress president played out as a scripted drama, with Mallikarjun Kharge, the Gandhi-approved candidate, sweeping the polls.
Furthermore, there were allegations that Rahul Gandhi had declared Kharge as the winner even before the official results were announced.
During the recent plenary session, around 15,000 delegates participated, and there were assurances that after a gap of 20 years, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body, would hold elections.
Unfortunately, the delegates were let down when the steering committee unanimously authorised the Congress President to nominate CWC members.
By avoiding the polls, the Congress party chose to keep the real power within the Gandhi family's circle.
Soros' Stain On Narrative
The recent admission by George Soros of his aversion to the Modi government, coupled with BBC's documentary on 2002 riots, has reminded the people of the narrative war India is currently facing.
Rahul Gandhi's alignment with so-called "intellectuals" and "activists" known for spreading anti-India rhetoric has further eroded trust in his intentions.
The BBC controversy resulted in Anil Antony, son of Congress leader A.K. Antony, quitting the party due to backlash from party colleagues for opposing BBC's interference in India's internal affairs.
The controversy surrounding Soros highlighted the support Congress has been receiving from his organisation, the Open Society Foundation (OSF).
During the Bharat Jodo Yatra, OSF's Vice-President Salil Shetty walked alongside Rahul Gandhi on 11 October, 2022, raising doubts about how far Congress would go to ensure a change of regime in the country.
Amritpal Sandhu Parallels
It is particularly concerning that Rahul Gandhi's insistence on calling India a "Union of States" has found resonance with Khalistani supporter Amritpal Singh's demand for a separate state of Khalistan.
Singh's emergence in Punjab, demanding Khalistan and disrupting law and order, has brought back memories of the dark days of terror and violence in the state.
In the face of such a situation, Congress's claims of "Bharat Jodo" ring hollow when people are reminded that Rahul's conception of Indian nationhood is analogous to that of Amritpal.
Rahul Gandhi Abroad, Again
The Wayanad MP has been notorious for his image as a “part time politician” and a “full time traveller”. The Bharat Jodo Yatra was supposed to dispel this image and present Gandhi as a serious political leader.
However, after the Yatra ended, Gandhi appeared to revert to his vacationing ways. Most recently, he has traveled to Cambridge to give a lecture on "The Art of Listening", sporting a new clean-shaven look and tailored suits.
Rahul Gandhi's frequent visits abroad have raised concerns about his commitments, especially in light of recent events such as the BBC documentary and George Soros' comments.
The fact that such conspiracies against India are being hatched outside the country only adds to the worry, and his travels shrouded in secrecy, only serve to further undermine confidence in him as a leader.
The Congress party has announced plans for another Yatra, this time on an east-west axis.
However, given the lacklustre outcome of the previous yatra, the party would be wise to rethink its strategy before investing in another image-building exercise for Rahul Gandhi.
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