A Gandhi Scion On A Yatra And A Party In Crisis: Why 2022 Is Like 1990 For Congress

by Harsha Bhat - Sep 22, 2022 06:26 PM +05:30 IST
A Gandhi Scion On A Yatra And A Party In Crisis: Why 2022 Is Like 1990 For Congress Rajiv Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi
Snapshot
  • Bharat Jodo Yatra's strategy is the same, and so are the situations; the phot-ops too are eerily similar to Rajiv Gandhi's yatra in 1990.

It's almost deja-vu for the Congress as it undertakes its ‘historic yatra’. Rahul Gandhi is out to do what his father had done in 1985 and 1990.

The Gandhi scion launched the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kanyakumari on 7 September after visiting his father and former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial in Sriperumbudur. From Kanyakumari to Kashmir, the yatra on foot will see Rahul Gandhi traversing around 3,570 km in 150 days.

His father had started his ‘Bharat Yatra’ after paying tribute to the original Gandhi at Champaran; Rahul did so at the Mahatma Gandhi Mandapam at Kanyakumari where Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin handed him a khadi flag that he then handed over to Seva Dal workers, who will manage the yatra.

Rewind to 1985, when the present AICC General Secretary and then Chief of Congress Seva Dal, Tariq Anwar, had received the flag from Rajiv Gandhi when he launched the Congress Sandesh Yatra.

The only difference being that PM Rajiv Gandhi was launching this yatra after a massive victory for the Congress riding on a sympathy wave following Indira Gandhi's assassination.

Anwar, as quoted by ET, draws parallels between the two Gandhis and their yatras across the country and how the two may yield similar results.

Even when one reads this report on the 1990 Bharat Yatra by India Today, one finds many a parallel with the current programme of the Congress.

The intention is the same - to ensure that a Nehru-Gandhi walks amongst the masses to salvage the almost dismal fortunes of the Congress party; a party that is marred by electoral losses on one side and factionalism and internal disputes on the other.

Rahul Gandhi's grandmother rode an elephant on her comeback trail after 1977; his father took a second-class compartment of a train; and he himself has taken to the streets—quite literally.

The ‘wining and dining’ image has been cast away for lunching with community workers, even though the Burberry t-shirt still was picked up by the opposition as a marker of his ‘hypocrisy’.

The results, whether intended or unintended, are same as earlier.

‘Factional feuds erupted in Rajiv’s presence all along the route. And group leaders, instead of restraining their supporters, themselves indulged in sharp exchanged with their rivals,’ says the India Today report.

Cut to present - even before Gandhi can enter Karnataka, which he is scheduled to do on 1 October, the fissures within the Congress camp have been making news.

Both the CM-aspirants D K Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah have been at loggerheads and the divide has only gotten deeper and their differences sharper. 

Dissent within the party was pronounced back in 1990, and the slew of recent resignations at the central unit and the latest exodus of Congress MLAs in Goa, shows it is so this time around too.

The Congress was conflicted between playing the Hindu card and treading the 'secular' line back then, so are they to this day.

Rahul’s recent ‘naive‘ audience with a controversial Christian priest, his photo with a hijab-sporting young girl have been used by the BJP to accuse of the Congress of communalism.

Rajiv Gandhi attempted to recreate what his mother did, while Rahul is following in his father’s footsteps. The context is the same and so are the challenges. The intra-party conflicts that unfolded back then have begun this time around too.

The strategy is the same, so are the situations. The phot-ops too are eerily similar. But will the results prove otherwise and will Rahul be able to achieve what his father didn't?

Also Read: The True Objectives Of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra


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