Congress needs completely new narrative
Bharat Jodo Yatra by Rahul Gandhi has begun from Kanyakumari. A 3,500 km walkathon spread over 150 days is certainly an appreciable act and is pregnant with the possibility of revival of the Congress.
Bharat Jodo Yatra by Rahul Gandhi has begun from Kanyakumari. A 3,500 km walkathon spread over 150 days is certainly an appreciable act and is pregnant with the possibility of revival of the Congress. This is the first mass contact programme the Congress party is undertaking at national level almost after two decades, if not more. Hence, there is a need to see that it is well-executed.
The Congress party has been holding road shows and rallies during elections but has not taken up any activity across the country to unite the party. More than Bharat Jodo, it should certainly become Congress Jodo yatra. The yatra began at a place where a confluence of three oceans Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean takes place. Kanyakumari is popular because it is the only place on earth, where you can see the Sunrise and Sunset from the ocean. If handled properly, the yatra has the potential to see the rise of Congress again.
This may be sounding as an optimistic view of the yatra. But at the same time, the grand old party needs to ensure that there is no slip between the lip and the cup. The Congress and the heir apparent Rahul Gandhi should be clear in his mind and speech about the purpose of this yatra. He should not only have broader vision but also be articulate enough to call a spade a spade and hit the bull's eye. No point giving lecture on importance of Indian flag or what it means to the people or what it has given to people. What the Congress proposes to give to the people is more important.
He should be able to tell the masses what the party stands for? What is the purpose of Yatra? Bharat Jodo is a very vague statement. Bharat is and will always be united unless the politicians create trouble and incite communal violence for narrow political gains. There is no need to duck under the guise of saying it is a peace yatra. The Congress should have the courage to say 'Yes' it is part of election campaign. It just does not make any sense to lash out at the Centre. Congress should clearly offer an alternative plan and explain what it would do if voted to power. BJP is bad fine, but how different is Congress, they need to explain. When L K Advani took up yatra from Kanyakumari in 1991, BJP had a single point agenda – Ram Temple at Ayodhya. That kind of clarity is lacking in Bharat Jodo yatra.
One thing that needs to be kept in mind by Congress leaders and the so-called strategists is that the yatra would end around March 2023. It means elections would be at least six months to one year away. They should also have plans to keep the people, and more particularly the cadre, engaged to sustain the gains of the yatra. When it's peacetime, the army needs to be prepared for war. The rank and file should remain connected with people. Rahul Gandhi needs to establish a firm connection with voters. He should aim at creating a new narrative about his ability to lead the party to victory.
If Congress party remains contended with the media attention the yatra would get or what the Bhakt mandali keeps posting on social media then the yatra would be a political disaster. They should succeed not in mobilising crowds in each state but should target at getting organic attendance at the public meetings. In every state, the Congress workers and leaders should convince people about the purpose of yatra and see that the crowds voluntarily go to the public meetings. This could be a major challenge since the Congress party has become so weak that it may not be able to mobilise the masses.
Hurdles are there. One has to wait and watch how the party's old horses will handle the yatra.