A Yatra To Nowhere: Rahul Gandhi's Nth Makeover Is Only Preaching To The Choir

A Yatra To Nowhere: Rahul Gandhi's Nth Makeover Is Only Preaching To The Choir

by Rohit Pathania - Sunday, December 25, 2022 04:05 PM IST
A Yatra To Nowhere: Rahul Gandhi's Nth Makeover Is Only Preaching To The ChoirThe Congress' 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' is planned to pass through 12 states and cover a distance of 3,500 km.
  • The Bharat Jodo Yatra is going nowhere, and the outcome will be visible in 2023, in Rajasthan.

As Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra entered New Delhi this week, we saw the Congress party and its sycophant darbaris making attempts to please the ‘emperor in waiting’ with their typical shenanigans.

From invoking dogs to scoffing at Covid-19 protocol reminders, the usual suspects are at it again.

What was perhaps impressive thus far from the yatra was the manner in which the usual suspects came together, encircling Gandhi and trying to portray him as some sort of saint who aims to fight hatred in India.

Of course, none wants to admit that Gandhi, with his Marxist beard and washboard abs, and wearing expensive t-shirts and watches, tends to impress only the 'faithful'.

Looking at the folks that gathered around the ‘philosopher-king’ during the course of the yatra to create the perfect storm, one sees anti-development activists, supposed economists who nearly wrecked the economy, genocide-accused, psephological anarchists, and acknowledged mafias.

If the purpose was to project Rahul Gandhi as ‘holy’ and as a leader above and beyond the murky world of politics, the attempt clearly failed, and instead antagonised and angered voters in some places.

‘Hail the Saint’

It is interesting to note how there have been people who have tried to use their “star power” to attract attention for Gandhi's expedition.

Supposedly finding love in the times of hate, Gandhi has managed to galvanise tired souls who were crestfallen in their fight to ‘save democracy’, ‘reduce inequality’, ‘fight hatred’, and ‘combat evil Hindutva’.

We even saw the pulpit sermons coming through, where the politics of 'Jai Sri Ram vs Jai Siya Ram' was laid bare by Gandhi, who apparently wants to save the nation from itself.

The social media campaign around the yatra is, of course, trying to deflect attention from various kinds of gaffes and weird statements coming through.

There is a controlled release of statements and speeches. Interactions were kept at a minimum, and people were screened before they were made to be associated with the yatra.

What's missing, though, was an endorsement from, or photo-op with, say, the Sringeri Shankaracharya or the Madurai Adheenam or the Chinna Jeeyar, to give just a few names.

Was it by design? Or was it because 'the Saint' has spoken, and there can be no wiser person to talk about how the love of Hinduism is being drowned out by the 'hate of Hindutva'?

The Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Rajasthan around the same time that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed its charge sheet in the Udaipur case. The brutal murder of Kanhaiya Lal still remains fresh in the minds of the people.

Indeed, 2022 was a year which saw multiple communal incidents that were either organised by the now-banned Popular Front of India (PFI) or were inspired by them.

Yet, the Bharat Jodo Yatra seems to have no qualms about being associated with those who spread communal animosity.

Understanding the Motive — Pure Politics

Has the yatra made any difference to the Congress’ fortunes? And what really are its objectives?

It's increasingly clear that under the garb of the yatra it is Rahul Gandhi’s umpteenth makeover that is rolling out on the ground.

In many ways, this yatra is reminiscent of the padayatra of Chandra Shekhar during Indira Gandhi’s reign, as was mentioned by his former aide, Anurag Bhadauria, in a recent podcast.

However, the impact then was zilch, having been hit by a black swan event, namely Mrs Gandhi’s assassination. In the case of Mr Gandhi, though, there is no black swan event; rather, it's obvious that no one wants him even in the distant periphery of an election.

The absence of Rahul Gandhi from Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, and the absence of the yatra in a rather restive Punjab, sends more signals than ever about how the people who matter at the state levels perceive the presence of Gandhi.

Of course, the hosannas from the crowds that claim to have been silenced by the "godi media" have left no stone unturned in finding the merits of the yatra and attaching to it a halo of sanctity, of purity rarely seen in public life.

It is as if they are undertaking their own penance through Gandhi, with their minds becoming sanctified and purified by the mere glance of 'the Saint'.

Be that as it may for Gandhi's fans, let's remember one thing. Hilarity aside, the yatra, of course, is purely political. It is going through places where the Congress still commands attention.

The southern states, where the majority of the time has been spent, are key to a revival of the Congress party. The yatra has clearly traversed those states where the revival or rejuvenation of the party is more plausible.

That sends a clear message for the fanciful third-alternative dreamers — there is no primary opposition party but the Congress.

Any other type of packaging is essentially laughable. If the yatra is such a saintly project, why is it that Congress spokespersons do not shy away from talking in derogatory language about Yogi Adityanath?

Why doesn’t Rahul Gandhi in that case leave politics altogether and quit his Lok Sabha seat too?

And why is it that only political detractors of Prime Minister Narendra Modi associate themselves with the yatra

The Bharat Jodo Yatra is going nowhere, and the outcome will be visible in 2023, in Rajasthan.

What we do know is that there are a lot of the usual suspects cleansing their sins at the cost of Rahul Gandhi, while hoping secretly that Modi's politics somehow self-combusts.

This makeover, beyond this circle of usual suspects, is a dud, and any pretension now that the 2024 outcome will be affected by the yatra is just that — pretension.

Rohit Pathania works in the space of renewable energy and environment. Other interests include politics and the economy.
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