Rahul Gandhi is walking, but is he covering the needed distance?

The entire Congress organizational and communications apparatus is working overtime to ensure that Rahul Gandhi‘s Bharat Jodo Yatra a success. After all, the nationwide march is the party’s largest national-level mass mobilization in decades and is an ambitious exercise to rename Rahul ahead of the high-stakes duel with Narendra Modic for the 2024 Lok Sabha challenge.

The yatra, now in Karnataka after traveling through Kerala, has attracted a lot of media attention and seen encouraging public participation from the congress point of view. Rahul’s confident public speaking and interactions with the public – not to mention the three press meetings – are well supported by the party’s sharp social media campaigns and messages. Congress leaders of all shades have declared the yatra a resounding success.

But how do you measure success in an electoral democracy?

The yatra and its main slogans – the need to unite India against hatred and division, the Modi government’s “failure” on employment and its “inability” to contain rising prices – will be launched in two months. be put to the test in Gujarat, the Prime Minister’s home state, and in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP the president’s territory. And inexplicably, Congress seems to be lacking in both states.

Modi is in Gujarat on a three-day tour to lay foundation stones and initiate projects running into the thousands of crores. He was in Himachal Pradesh last week and will travel back to the state later this week to unveil development projects – the last moment before the Election Commission announces the schedule for the parliamentary elections. Arvind Kejriwal has made several trips to Gujarat and is aggressively taking on the BJP.

Congress had appointed Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as senior observer for Gujarat. He visited the state for three days in August and stood at the side of Rahul in Ahmedabad in the first week of September, when the former congressional president announced a slew of promises, including free power, agricultural loan forgiveness, 10 lakh new jobs and compensation for Covid-affected families if the party comes to power.

Rahul then proceeded to Kanyakumari to embark the yatra and Gehlot on an unexpected trajectory of power politics. Gehlot is now so caught up in his own game that no one is sure if he would continue as an observer for Gujarat. The Himachal Congress, on the other hand, has seen some high-profile exits and is said to spark resentment against AICC leader Rajeev Shukla.

Returning to the issue of the success of the yatra, party leaders, including Rahul, are doing everything they can to disconnect the walkathon from the election results. What if Congress wins Gujarat and Himachal? Will the success be attributed to Rahul and the yatra? And what if Congress tastes another defeat? Will that defuse the momentum Congress has been building so diligently around the yatra over the past month?

And what about Rahul’s silence on the flogging incident in Kheda, Gujarat, where Muslims were beaten up by men believed to be police officers for allegedly pelting rocks at a garba? The Bharat Jodo Yatra, as the name suggests, is to unite the country – against hatred and division. Then why was Congress silent on the Kheda incident? Rahul, like Kejriwal, may believe that it may be politically wise to remain indifferent to such incidents in view of the Assembly elections, even if he speaks eloquently against the politics of anger, hatred and division.

Congressional executives would say that questioning Rahul’s silence was unnecessary nit-picking, as the yatra’s outspoken message is against a policy of communal polarization.

Meanwhile, as the Congressional presidential election process progresses, the question is whether the new appointee will let go of the party mandarins’ safe-playing approach? Both Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor are very outspoken against the BJP and outspoken on issues of hatred and division.

Congress also appears reluctant to rally opposition parties against the election commission’s proposal to get political parties to disclose how they intend to fund the promises made in their election manifestos and how the pledges affect the financial situation. of the state or central government. Almost all major parties, including Congress, have opposed the move. But there is no coordinated strategy to face the EC. There is also no attempt to rally forces over an alleged push on Hindi that has disrupted many regional forces beyond the Hindi belt through which Rahul is currently moving.

Congress may be in wait-and-see mode. Party executives say joint opposition exercises or efforts to unite secular Democratic parties will resume after Congressional presidential elections.

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