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October 16, 2022 02:59 pm | Updated October 17, 2022 12:35 pm IST – Bengaluru
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with supporters during the party’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Ballari on October 15, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI
It has been the season of padayatra and rallies over the last fortnight in Karnataka. While the Opposition Congress has called Bharat Jodo Yatra led by its former president Rahul Gandhi a “mega success”, the ruling BJP dubbed it a “washout”, making light of Mr. Gandhi’s address in Mysuru in heavy downpour which went viral on social media.
Wearing a T-shirt and sneakers, Mr. Gandhi walked nearly 500 km in Karnataka, and visited temples, churches and mosques, handloom units and tasted raw sugarcane. He hugged thousands from all walks of life and all ages along the way. He received hundreds of garlands during the day-long yatra. Congress leaders also celebrated Gandhi Jayanti and Dasara during the Mysuru leg of the yatra.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with filmmaker Saeed Akhtar Mirza (right) during the party’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, in Ballari district, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI
After a light exercise and breakfast, he walked 25 km a day on the hot, bituminous road and sometimes braved hot sun and showers. As he travelled across seven districts of Karnataka, he spoke on multiple issues, largely targeting the Basavaraj Bommai-led government on the “40% corruption” allegation.
With the state Assembly elections scheduled early next year and having no choice, prominent State Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and D K Shivakumar walked along with Mr Gandhi, almost all day, apparently to downplay their simmering differences. Many legislators and party leaders — those from the grassroots and those from Delhi’s power corridors — put their best foot forward along with the Wayanad MP.
AICC president Sonia Gandhi too provided moral support to her son, though it was for a couple of hours. Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, who wrote the party’s obituary after 2019, supported the yatra with an objective of what he called “protecting India’s republic.”
While the walk seems to have rendered many Karnataka leaders more fit, its political fallout is now being keenly watched.
A Congress worker peeps through a banner during the party’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, in Ballari, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI
The yatra received spontaneous response from the public. Political pundits say that it galvanised the cadre and lifted the spirit of workers at all levels. His unpretentious approach as he mingled with farmers, daily wagers, factory workers, shopkeepers, women and children was well received, say leaders.
Political expert P.S. Jayaramu said, “Yatra is most likely to be an energising force to the Congress. The public reception seems to be spontaneous. The BJP leadership is rattled.”
Ranul Gandhi meeting the injured at a local hospital in New Moka, Ballari, on Sunday. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
On a daily basis, the BJP leaders took jibes at the yatra. Leading from the front, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai labelled the Congress a “bail party” and said that “fake Gandhis” made charges of corruption against his government. They took exception to Mr Gandhi’s criticism of RSS and Hindutva outfits.
Mr Gandhi, who set up a 150-day yatra to cover 3,500 km, is set to miss the campaign in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections scheduled to be held in December. With the ruling BJP hoping to do well in both states, political debates after the poll results might question the impact of the yatra.
In Karnataka, there is no doubt that the yatra created political ripples. It remained the main political show amidst impending elections to the post of AICC president. However, will it help to achieve electoral success in the 2023 Assembly elections is the question on everybody’s mind. Will the State leaders give up their factional feuds after the yatra is the big question, the answer to which is yet elusive.
state politics / Karnataka / Bangalore / Bharat Jodo Yatra / Indian National Congress
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