Bharat Jodo Yatra enters State today

Congress hopes to woo and wow voters ahead of the LS elections 

September 10, 2022 10:56 pm | Updated 10:56 pm IST

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing the public during the Bharat Jodo Yatra on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border at Thalaichanvilai in Kanniyakumari district on Saturday.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing the public during the Bharat Jodo Yatra on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border at Thalaichanvilai in Kanniyakumari district on Saturday. | Photo Credit: SHAIKMOHIDEEN A.

 

The Kerala leg of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) will enter the State from Tamil Nadu at the Parassala border on Sunday. 

Mr. Gandhi will leg it across Kerala for the next 19 days to muster popular sentiment against the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. 

Congress has choreographed the made-for-social media tour to woo and wow voters ahead of the Lok Sabha (LS) elections in 2024. 

The party has repeatedly denied that the yatra has anything to do with the Lok Sabha polls. 

Mr. Gandhi will try to pull off a political balancing act, making the right gestures toward different socio-economic groups during the 453-km trek.  

Campaign staples like public meetings, one-to-ones, and glad-handling supporters will characterise the yatra as it meanders at an almost glacial pace through Kerala’s heartlands. 

Mr. Gandhi hopes to put at least 23 km behind him every day. He will use the campaign stops to highlight the “Centre’s divisive agenda, authoritarianism, use of constitutional agencies to wreak political vendetta and infringement on federalism”, among other regional and national issues.

Meanwhile, right-wing social media groups have spared no effort to blow a hole in Mr. Gandhi’s campaign. 

 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi being felicitated by M. Vasanthakumari, said to be Asia’s first woman bus driver, during the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra of the Congress in Kanyakumari district on Saturday. Activist Yogendra Yadav is also seen.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi being felicitated by M. Vasanthakumari, said to be Asia’s first woman bus driver, during the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra of the Congress in Kanyakumari district on Saturday. Activist Yogendra Yadav is also seen. | Photo Credit: R. Senthil Kumar

They portrayed a post showing Mr. Gandhi discussing Jesus Christ with a set of Christian priests in Kanyakumari district in neighbouring Tamil Nadu as “anti-Hindu”. 

 The characterisation elicited a strong response from Congress leader Jairam Ramesh who tweeted: “People who were responsible for the killing of Mahatma Gandhi and the murders of people like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M.M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh are raising questions! What a morbid joke! Such attempts to damage the spirit of #BharatJodoYatra will fail miserably!”.

The social media tit-for-tat also bordered on the personal. BJP supporters speculated on the cost of Mr. Gandhi’s apparel and the “expensive luxury caravans” accompanying him. They compared former Prime Minister and Janata Party leader S. Chandrasekhar’s “austere” padayatra in 1983 with Mr. Gandhi’s allegedly “ostentatious” expedition. 

Moreover, the growing rumblings of purported discontent in Congress over the “transparency and fairness” of the party’s presidential election also seemed to overshadow Mr. Gandhi’s entry into Kerala. 

Sashi Tharoor, MP, from Thiruvananthapuram, is among the five Congress Lok Sabha members who have demanded the AICC release the list of electors to enable presidential candidates to verify the make-up of the electoral college. 

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