The Congress-led Bharat Jodo Yatra is to change people’s perspectives about the party and its leaders. In Indian history, similar long walks have been organized with the intent to bring change, politically and electorally. With the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Congress party expects the same as it has suffered significant challenges in the last eight years since Modified nation ruled.
Today if Congress is facing an existential crisis, the position was not in favor between 1998 and 2004. In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, honorable Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee looked all set to win. Ultimately, India was shining, and all the media polls were in the BJP’s favor.
The latest electoral drought for the Congress began in 2014 when India became Modified. Along with the hope to make a comeback in electoral politics, the Bharat Jodo Yatra is crucial for the Gandhi’s. Several questions come under the spotlight. And the answers to the questions will only be given in the coming months. For now, let’s discuss 5 long walks that transformed electoral politics in India.
CHANDRA SHEKHAR, 1983 ‘Bharat Yatra’
The socialist leader Chandra Shekhar took 4,200 Km long Bharat Yatra in 1983 against the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who came to government after defeating his Janata Party. The Bharat Yatra’s primary goal is to bring confidence among the people and trust for Janata Party.
YS RAJASEKHARA REDDY, 2003 ‘Praja Prasthanam’
In 2002-2003, the regional organization, Telugu Desam Party, ruled the state for decades, and Congress leaders Reddy never got an opportunity to come into power. This yatra aimed to connect with people at the grassroots level.
CHANDRABABU NAIDU, 2013 ‘Vastunna Meekosam’
Chandrababu Naidu was conquered by the YS Reddy in 2004 through his padayatra and defeated TDP again in 2009. In the assembly polls of 2013, Naidu also accomplished the same strategy and did a 208-day walkathon known as Vastunna Meekosam, covering 2,800 Km. This is to reinvent him as the leader of Andhra Pradesh after facing two defeats from Congress.
YS JAGAN MOHAN REDDY, 2017
After the death of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, his son YS Jagan Mohan Reddy initiated a tour to meet and console the people. Jagan quit the congress and launched his own YSR Congress party in 2011. Jagan was an overnight martyr. In the 2014 Assembly polls, Jagan’s party lost but felt its presence. He became the Leader of the Opposition. This made Jagan hungrier. In 2017, he went for the full monty, embarking on a 3,648-km foot march across Andhra Pradesh that lasted 341 days. After the 2019 Assembly election, Jagan was the chief minister.
DIGVIJAYA SINGH, 2017
The former CM of Madhya Pradesh and senior Congress leader, Digvijaya Singh, completed a 3,300 KM yatra. He walked through the banks of the Narmada River in 2017 and told others that it was a religious and spiritual walk. However, it is evident that he had a mass connection and communication with people.
Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, a five-month 3,700 km walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. Congress social media teams have been trying to project Rahul as a loving and respectful statesman. Senior party leader Jairam Rameshs positively aggressive communication strategy is balancing things out.
According to a senior political journalist, Iftikhar Gilani, Politics is like a Bollywood movie as nobody quite knows what will work with the public. The 2014 defeat of the Congress was a godsend for Rahul Gandhi to set a new course, cleanse his party, and blood fresh, young, and dynamic faces. But Gilani said Rahul could not quite succeed. The realization was to wait for the failures of the Modi government like Indira Gandhi did in 1977, he added.
The BJP has a robust cadre base rooted in its ideology. But Congress often struggles to know how to confront it, Gilani said. That is why Rahul Gandhi is seen to be taking refuge in secularism and sometimes in soft Hindutva, while the current crisis is too big, he said.