A missed opportunity for Rahul

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi


It still appears Advantage Modi as Gandhi scion scrambles to unite the party

The 3,500 km and 350-day Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir has concluded. Has it achieved anything? The answer would be both 'Yes and No.' Yes in the sense that it has given a chance to Rahul Gandhi to re-brand himself as a 'Baba Rahul' from 'Rahul Baba.' He is now seen in a new avatar – with a big beard.

Rahul Gandhi feels that his Bharat Jodo Yatra was a great success. Yes, it was because he did walk 3,500 km. He claims that it has helped in changing the 'narrative' and has brought the people of India together to denounce the hatred that is being spread by BJP and has helped in spreading the message of love. Is it so? Well, the answer would be 'No'. It is difficult to see how many hearts have come together, but one can say with certainty that it has created greater rift in the state units of the Congress party.

Whether he succeeded in bringing crores of hearts to support the Congress to defeat the BJP or not would be known after the elections results are out but the within the party the differences have only widened. The way the dissonance among the rank and file of the state units came to fore even during his visit to the respective states indicates that the yatra had not succeeded in energising even the cadre. Maybe some at the level of AICC feel that it has been a great success, but the momentum the yatra had sought to give the party than has been on a losing streak was not conspicuous.

While I do not intend to disappoint the elite sections of the Congress party, including Rahul himself, about the success of the yatra and the re-branded image, the fact is that even as he was on his long walkathon, the party lost the Gujarat Assembly elections and the vote share had further went down. AAP ate into the Congress vote share in Gujarat. In Himachal, it was the anti-incumbency factor and the fight was only between the BJP and Congress. The voters had no other credible choice. One cannot say with certainty that the yatra had helped the Congress in Rajasthan and that it would be back in power comfortably.

Soon, Karnataka and Rajasthan would be going to polls. It cannot asserted that that following the yatra, the party rank and file in these states had put all their differences aside and united to take on the BJP. The situation in Karnataka is fluid at this point of time but then again it cannot be said that the Congress has a great advantage there.

While it is a fact that the contrary to the claims made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament that everything is hunky dory, prices of all commodities including petrol and petroleum products have witnessed steep increase and the family spend on household budget has almost doubled in the last eight years and the business sector has been unhappy with the complex rules and too many slabs of GST etc. This being the situation, it appears the Congress party for want of proper planning has failed to seize the moment and get its act together so as to cause ripples within the saffron party.

It is not enough for the Congress leaders to claim that they have achieved a lot and dream that they would be back in power in 2024 general elections. They continue to dream without striving to achieve it. They claim Rahul has succeeded in bringing out two visions. One is hate-filled, arrogant and cowardly acts by BJP and the other is spread of positivity by Rahul Gandhi. The yatra, Rahul claimed, has made these two visions clear. He said frightening or suppressing people cannot stop the Congress. But what can one hope for as the party refuses to learn lessons and recoup and surge ahead?

Something fundamentally was missing in this yatra. Rahul does not hold any official position in the party. So, whenever he was asked about various issues pertaining to policy matters, he used to say that it was for the party to decide. At the most, one can say it helped Rahul discover India but not rejuvenate the party rank and file and give necessary impetus to it to go to polls as a strong alternative to the BJP. In democracy, having a strong opposition is must and unfortunately the Congress party which got decimated in 2014 has not succeeded in bouncing back. A lot of efforts have been put by the party machinery to organise the walkathon. The public relations aspect was also worked out but still one cannot affirm that it has helped the party re-emerge as a strong opposition. The situation is such that hardly any regional parties are willing to work with the grand old party in the run-up to the general elections. BJP says "Phir Modi Sarkar," BRS says "Aab Ki Baar Kisan Sarkar" and many more such slogans would be coming up. Still, there is no indication that all of them would indulge in Haat Jodo to defeat the BJP.

The new entrant on national political arena, the BRS, also seems to have taken a stand that they would consider having ties with the Congress if it approaches them and if it is willing to accept their line of politics and work with them.

When Rahul Gandhi spoke in Lok Sabha during the discussion on the motion of thanks to the President's address, one thought it would be a power-packed speech exposing the BJP and would highlight the two visions which he claims to have established. But it turned out to be Modi and Adani bashing session. If this was made an integral part of his new vision which he got after the yatra, perhaps, he would have earned some support and may be at least a section of people would have given a second thought. The yatra should have been converted into a great occasion to re-discover the party and re-kindle and channelise the anti-incumbency factor so that Congress could have thrown a real challenge to the BJP in next elections. But that did not happen. It did not touch the more complex issues nor did it work to make the party gear up for the series of elections both in different states and the Lok Sabha election in 2024. So far, there are no signs of any end to the internal differences within the party and see that it re-emerges as a political force.

In Telangana, the split is wide open. Haath se Haat Jodo which is supposed to be the sequel to Rahul's Bharat Jodo has resulted in further widening the gap between the seniors and the lateral entrants into the party. Though the high command has succeeded in making the seniors maintain silence, it has failed to resolve the crisis and no senior is willing to extend his Haat to the state president Revanth Reddy. On the other hand, his utterances during his public speeches have failed to attract the people and resulted in drawing strong criticism from the seniors who feel that the Congress party now has no chance of reviving and it may prove to be the nemesis of the party in the state. So the big question now is has the Congress re-energised itself? The answer apparently is 'NO.'

Show Full Article
Print Article
Next Story
More Stories