Congress feels invigorated by Bharat Jodo Yatra

Rahul Gandhi-led march appears to have galvanised party leaders in Kerala at the grassroots after successive defeats in Assembly polls

September 29, 2022 07:07 pm | Updated 08:54 pm IST - KOZHIKODE

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party workers during the last leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kerala.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party workers during the last leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kerala. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appears to have galvanised party leaders in Kerala into action, besides reinforcing a spirit of camaraderie among United Democratic Front partners.

Although the slogan of the yatra is aimed at uniting India from religious polarisation, Congress leaders feel that Mr. Gandhi’s 18-day mass-contact programme through eight districts has been able to drive his political point home in the State.

“The meetings with social, political and cultural leaders and the interactions with women and students were highly effective. Also, the conversations with farmers from Kottayam and Idukki, northern districts including Wayanad and Kozhikode,” Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran told The Hindu on Thursday.

Dealing with criticism

Despite the yatra drawing flak from the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI-M] leadership in the State and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders initially, Mr. Gandhi remained fairly unruffled. “We were unfazed by these remarks as the KPCC was sure of the yatra’s success,“ Mr. Sudhakaran said.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party workers during the last leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kerala on Thursday.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party workers during the last leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kerala on Thursday. | Photo Credit: PTI

CPI(M) leaders had criticised the yatra saying that it was spending 18 days in Left-ruled State and just two in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.

However, Jairam Ramesh, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in charge of communications, took a dig at the CPI(M) by calling the party the “A team’’ of the BJP and also likened Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in terms of ideology and management style.

The BJP termed the yatra as hollow, describing the programme was essentially a family-saving campaign to keep the Gandhis in control of the party. The Congress hit back by posting a picture of khaki shorts, apparently in reference to the RSS, being burnt on its social media handle.

Intra-party squabbles

Nevertheless, the political optics of the defection of eight of 11 Congress legislators in the Goa Assembly to the BJP during the Kerala leg of the yatra shocked the party leadership.

Besides, the AICC was also struggling to navigate the uncertainty over the party presidential election particularly after 92 legislators owing allegiance to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot threatened to resign en masse if former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot was picked as his successor.

Even then, the yatra was able to invigorate the party grassroots after Congress workers were demoralised by two successive defeats in the Assembly polls.

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