Anyway, what's your vision, Rahul?

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, along with several party leaders, embarked on the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ from Kanyakumari on September 8.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, along with several party leaders, embarked on the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' from Kanyakumari on September 8. It's a welcome move and one should hope that it will mark the beginning of a new era in the party which is on the verge of extinction. If it succeeds in reaching out to the electorate with a clear vision and rejuvenates its organization, it certainly would be a great achievement for Rahul Gandhi.

The yatra will traverse through Kerala and Karnataka before moving north. It will pass through Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Nilambur, Mysuru, Bellary, Raichur, Vikarabad, Nanded, Jalgaon, Indore, Kota, Dausa, Alwar, Bulandshahr, Delhi, Ambala, Pathankot, Jammu, and end in Srinagar. According to AICC, about 30% of its participants are women. The average age is 38 and about 50,000 citizens have registered to participate in the Yatra. So far so good.

But, the yatra needs to have a clear and bold target. Rahul should not mince words. He needs to show the courage to call a spade a spade and not beat around the bush. On day two of his yatra, he said, "We are focused like Arjuna when he went to Draupadi's Swayamwar. We have only one vision right now – to ensure the successful completion of Bharat Jodo Yatra."

This sounds rather weird. When he has taken up such a massive yatra which no one else had done so far, he should be hitting the bull's eye straight. But he said his aim was successful completion of yatra. It would have been better if his script writers had told him that Arjuna was fully focused and clear about his goal. He wanted Draupadi and he got her. What does Rahul want? This is not a walkathon for health where he feels that his aim is to successfully complete walking 3,500 km.

As a leader who had embarked on a yatra which is pregnant with the possibility of catapulting him into the position of Prime Minister, he should be clear in his mind and speech about what is the target of this missile called Bharat Jodo. To me, it appears the name itself is faulty. Bharat is united. It has always been united despite the diversity it has in terms of religion, region, language and all other such related issues. If it was not united, it would not have been possible to achieve Independence in 1947.

What is Rahul trying to 'Jodo' (unite)? People are united but it is only the politicians who are badly divided. In India, no communal clash takes place unless it is created by political parties for narrow political gains. The Bharat that we live in today is resilient, robust & united. The only time India it was divided was in 1947 because Congress agreed for it. "Rahul Gandhiji should go to Pakistan for 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' if they want unification." This is the attack from BJP. Though it is a strong political comment there certainly is a point to be pondered over.

Anyway, let us accept the fact that 'Der Se Aye pur Durust Aye.' The 140-year-old party should ensure that they should not speak or do anything that would make them lose the advantage. Rahul says the purpose of the yatra is to understand the problems of the people. Well, does it mean that the grand old party which ruled the country for over five decades still does not know what the problems of the people are? Or does Rahul want to say that the Congress had distanced itself from people and never bothered to 'Jodo' with people to understand their problems during last eight years?

Let us give him the benefit of doubt and agree with him when he says that the country is facing the worst ever economic crisis. Let us also admit for the sake of argument that the NDA has failed in creating job opportunities. Let us accept that demonetization and GST were wrong strategies and that the government is bent upon destroying farm sector and is pro-Ambanis and Adanis.

But then the big question now is what will Congress do? Throw a few stones at BJP, blame it for all ills, saying everything went wrong only in last eight years, while it was five decades of golden period during Congress regime starting from Nehru to Manmohan Singh, will not help the party in any which way.

What needs to be answered by Congress is what will be the follow-up of the walkathon. If it is just Modi bashing, then it would mean that they had launched an unguided missile. Since Rahul talks of unity in diversity, he should understand that every region in the country has some specific problems and advantages.

Similarly, there would be some common problems across the country. Will the Congress party compile all the problems and come up with region-specific solutions or will the criticism continue to hover around lack of jobs, dividing country on communal lines or on basis of religion, destroying institutions?

If only tongue lashing of BJP is the single point agenda, then Congress needs to answer why the country which had 80 per cent of population below poverty line in 1947 still has the same per cent of people below poverty line? How does it propose to handle this issue?

Presuming that Congress has a lot of wisdom, will it come up with solutions to the problems faced by the country in the form of its election manifesto? Another important issue it needs to answer is what would be the sanctity of the promises if at all Rahul makes any during his 3,500 km walkathon? He is not projected as the PM candidate. He has not yet agreed to be the president of AICC.

Then how do they propose to create confidence among voters that the Congress party would deliver what it would promise?

When YS Rajasekhara Reddy took up padayatra he made clear-cut promises. Later, when TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu took up padayatra he announced what TDP would do to address the problems of the people if voted to power. When Jagan took up padayatra, he too made several announcements. How many have been fulfilled is debatable, but the issue here is they had a target and had hit the bull's eye during their speeches. Will Rahul do something similar? His speech in last two days does not reflect any such thing. He is not even willing to say that it is teamwork. Rahul says he alone is walking and that he is not leading the walkathon.

The biggest malice in Indian political system is caste politics. So far, no political party has been able to eradicate this malice. Will Rahul show the courage to announce that caste, money and muscle power will be done away with in elections and Congress will set an example whether it comes to power or not. Will it follow this new mantra and set an example for future? Will Congress promise to bring down the poll expenditure and weed out criminal elements so that it can lay path for genuine people to contest elections?

Can he claim that Congress never misused the central agencies like IT, CBI and ED? Can he assure that henceforth the central agencies will be independent? Can he assure that prices will be rolled back and explain the party strategy to implement it? Price rise is not a new phenomenon. We have seen how Janata government lost power when onion prices soared in 1980. Later in Delhi elections many other governments got defeated because of rising prices.

Did not the Congress encourage Ambanis and Adanis? Maybe they got more pie under NDA. Is it not a fact that all Congress PMs, Indira Gandhi to Manmohan Singh and chief ministers of all Congress ruled states, roll out red carpet to these industrialists?

Can Rahul say that he will not follow the policy of appeasement of any caste or community? Will Congress announce doing away with GST and undo demonetisation? How does it propose to correct this wrong committed by the BJP? Has Congress thought of an alternative economic model to pull the country out of "worst ever economic crisis?"

Whom are you fooling Rahulji? Let us agree that the present dispensation failed to create job opportunities as you say and that the country is facing worst economic crisis. But what will you do to put the rail back on track? Simple blabbering won't help. It's not as easy as to hug PM in parliament or wink.

Unless the Congress explains how it proposes to address these issues, the yatra could end up as another event of the Congress party. Bharat se Congress Ko Jodo should be the agenda of the Congress and this can become reality if it makes serious effort to convince and win over the people. At the moment, there is a credibility crisis in Congress along with leadership crisis. The urgent need is to set the house in order. If Congress at least succeeds in Opposition Jodo with this yatra, it can be considered as a major leap forward.

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