Editorial – March 20, 2024

Editorial – March 20, 2024

Editorial – March 20, 2024

Title: Length and breadth: On Rahul Gandhi and his yatras

The second edition of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, concluded in Mumbai on March 17 with a rally that also saw the participation of some of the party’s allies.

Through the two editions of this yatra, Mr. Gandhi traversed a distance over 10,000 kilometres across the length and breadth of the country, meeting multitudes of people from across society. In the process he has also travelled some distance in his own evolution as a leader, to emerge as the most strident face of anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politics in India.

 If there was novelty and euphoria around the first edition, that was from Kanniyakumari to Srinagar, the second one, from Manipur to Mumbai, was more clinical and functional. With Mr. Gandhi tramping through the picturesque countryside, the first yatra delivered a nebulous message of love and harmony framed around the slogan, Nafrat Ke Bazaar Mein Mohabbat Ki Dukaan (outlet of love in a market of hate). To insulate Mr. Gandhi from expectations of immediate politics, the Congress insisted that the yatra was not an electoral exercise, but an ideological campaign.

The yatra gained the Congress some electoral advantage in Karnataka and Telangana which it went on to win in the Assembly elections that followed, but the party lost in the elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

In the second edition, the yatra’s theme was built around social justice, a euphemism for a wider representation of caste groups in power. Both the yatras have achieved the goal of energising the party cadres, who found themselves suitably employed and connected to the party leadership in the run-up to the general election.

The paradox for the Congress leaders is that the more success they meet, the stronger will be the pushback from their own allies. A wobbly, weak and flexible Congress at the centre of the anti-BJP alliance is a stronger glue to keep the alliance together. In States where the Congress is subservient to the regional forces, from Tamil Nadu to Bihar, the alliance is in better shape.

But in West Bengal, where the State party chief, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, refused to bow down to the Trinamool Congress, the alliance fell through. The planning and management of the two editions of the Bharat Jodo Yatra also turned out to be a notable renewal of the party’s organisational capacity. But, equally, the 2024 general election will put to the test Mr. Gandhi’s brand of politics centred around left-leaning welfarism and inchoate secularism.

Meaning of the important words

WordsMeaning
multitudesrefers to a large number or great quantity of people or things. It indicates a vast amount or a multitude of individuals or items. It can also imply a diverse or varied group.
stridenttypically describes something loud, harsh, and grating, often in a way that is unpleasant or irritating.
euphoriarefers to an intense feeling of happiness, excitement, or joy.
trampingcan refer to walking or hiking over long distances, usually through rural or wilderness areas.
euphemisma mild or indirect word or expression that is used in place of a more harsh, direct, or unpleasant one to soften the impact or to make something sound less offensive, upsetting, or embarrassing.
paradoxis a statement or situation that seems contradictory, absurd, or self-contradictory, but may actually be true or have a valid explanation. It often involves a situation in which two seemingly contradictory or incompatible ideas or conditions exist simultaneously, leading to a conflict in understanding
subservientrefers to being excessively obedient or submissive to someone else’s authority or wishes.
welfarismrefers to a political or social philosophy that emphasizes the importance of promoting the welfare or well-being of individuals and society as a whole.
inchoateis an adjective that describes something that is in the early or preliminary stages of development, not fully formed or organized, and therefore not yet completed or fully realized.

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