Clarity and confusion: On Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra

Rahul Gandhi will have to use moral clarity for road map for electoral success 

December 28, 2022 12:10 am | Updated 12:03 pm IST

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, or ‘unite India march’, is an audacious attempt to reimagine the country’s politics. Now on a nine-day break, it will resume from Delhi on January 3, towards Srinagar in Kashmir. It began in Kanyakumari on September 7, and has covered over 2,800 kilometres. Against the backdrop of polarising sectarian rhetoric that has become the easiest route to political power, his message of harmony is as inspiring as it is innocently idealistic. Through his speeches and interactions, he has tried to frame a new charter for political action that is dissociated from immediate electoral calculations. It is in some ways a compromise in its attempt to find the middle ground between a status quo politics that merely mirror and reproduce existing social realities, and a radicalism that tries to transform the society through political action. By paying tributes to A.B. Vajpayee, the first Prime Minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mr. Gandhi has sought to make a distinction between the current iteration of Hindutva from its own original content and intent, tenuous as that may be. Over the march, he has, without doubt, emerged as the staunchest opponent of Hindutva, but that may not add to his capacity to confront it or to establish himself as the fulcrum of politics opposed to it.

For Mr. Gandhi, social harmony is the means and ends of politics. That conception has a fundamental challenge though, because politics cannot escape contestation and combat, as Mr. Gandhi’s own valiant opposition to the BJP and its Hindutva ideology bears out. It is not entirely original to think of politics as a medium of social transformation rather than the route to capturing state power. From the Mahatma to Vinoba Bhave to Jayaprakash Narayan, India has a long history of people and movements that saw politics as a moral pursuit. Political ideologies such as Hindutva and Marxism see state power not as an end in itself, but as the instrument of social transformation that they aim for. The current power-ideology complex of Hindutva has attained a level of hegemony and efficiency that it is self-perpetuating. Its unprecedented totalising grip over India is based on a political adaptation of Hinduism, a philosophy that has connected people to one another and their land over millennia. Mr. Gandhi is cognisant of the reality that confronts him and his intentions are beyond reproach. Figuring out the complex correlation between state power and social goals is more challenging. Translating moral clarity to sustainable politics is the task at hand for Mr. Gandhi.

To read this editorial in Tamil, click here. 

To read this editorial in Hindi, click here.

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