Thursday, November 30, 2023

Satya Column : No sign of Bharat Jodo Yatra improving Cong poll prospects

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People were not aware of Bharat Jodo Yatra undertaken by the Congress till the party leaders announced the conclusion of the yatra undertaken by Congress prince Rahul Gandhi. What should have been the impact of the yatra on people across the country, considering it was undertaken by the leader of the Congress, which is more than a 100-year-old party? How many ripples it should have created across the nation! But a survey conducted on the impact of the yatra described it as a damp squib. It said not even 10 per cent of the people know about Rahul Gandhi’s yatra. There was no sign of the yatra improving the electoral prospects of the Congress.

The Congress forfeited its deposit in the Munugode by-election held in Telangana. It faces the danger of getting wiped out in UP. The vote share of the party in Gujarat dwindled from 41 per cent to 27.3 per cent. The Congress could not win even half of the seats it had won in the last elections. In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP was defeated in the recent elections due to local reasons, not because of the Bharat Jodo Jatra undertaken by Rahul Gandhi.

There is evidence of the BJP improving its position remarkably following the rath yatra undertaken by senior leader LK Advani. On September 25, 1990, Advani had embarked on the rath yatra at Somnath, which was flagged off by Narendra Modi. Advani addressed at least six public meetings each day during the yatra, which covered 300 km daily. Narendra Modi, during 2002, undertook Gaurav Yatra across Gujarat to make the BJP unparalleled party and the yatra helped the BJP win every election thereafter. The road shows and public meetings that Modi addresses in states give the party a much-needed fillip and boosts its morale. Prior to the last Gujarat elections, lakhs of people took part in the 50-km-long road shows addressed by Modi.

What did Rahul achieve with his yatra? Barring Congress Party’s veteran leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh praising the yatra, no other leader would be able to say that the yatra helped Congress to grow stronger. Most of the opposition parties ignored the Bharat Jodo yatra of Rahul Gandhi. At the public meeting held at Srinagar to mark the conclusion of the yatra, only nine leaders out of the leaders of 21 parties invited to it were present. Leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Janata Dar (United) and CPI-M — political allies of the Congress in Maharashtra and Bihar — and those of Samajwadi party and Trinamool Congress did not turn up at the meeting. This explains the confidence opposition parties had in the Bharat Jodo Yatra undertaken by Rahul Gandhi.

The regional parties in the country are in a directionless state. They are not able to decide on their goal, going by the popularity of BJP which is growing with each passing day. BRS president K Chandrashekhar Rao, who had sweated it out in Munugode to win the by-elections, after having spent thousands of crores in a constituency like Munugode to win the election, is now boasting of winning the elections at national level challenging the BJP.

During the past eight years, the debt burden increased on the people of Telangana and unemployment has grown. Members of KCR’s family are looting the public. KCR may be offering a part of the money earned through graft as a bait to win over some regional parties and making them do the rounds of the BRS. But they are not innocent to support KCR’s leadership. These regional parties would shelve the BRS once their purpose is served.

The administration of CM Jaganmohan Reddy in the neighbouring state of AP has assumed dictatorial tendencies with unhindered corruption. Efforts are being made to stifle the voice of those who question the prevalence of democracy in the state. The Government brought out GO No.1 to prevent road shows, rallies and protests, indicating the respect Jagan has for freedom of speech. Perhaps Jagan might have forgotten how he had organized road shows under the name of Odarpu Yatra. He has augmented his security. Why Jagan feels so insecure is unfathomable. The AP Chief Minister is conducting himself as though people will assault him if they see him. This mirrors the atrocities taking place under his regime. The situation is same even in his native village of Pulivendula. Diverting central funds allotted to panchayats, terrorizing people with liquor, sand policies and encroachments on government lands and stifling voices that question his atrocities have distanced people from the administration.

The regional parties, honoring the verdict of the people, should have cooperated with the Central Government, which has provided constructive rule, to protect the interests of the state and to make federalism meaningful.

But Jagan, KCR, Nitish, Mamata Banerjee, Stalin and others voted to power are out to create anarchy in their states. If the central agencies question their corruption and exploitation, they either try to corner the Centre or try to plead mercy with it. No conspiracy has been hatched by the BJP to wipe out the Congress or the regional parties. People want to show the door to exploitative parties. How can the BJP be held accountable for the fate of the opposition parties?

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