Friday, January 27th, 2023 02:57:37

IMPACT of Yatra

By Manoj Dubey
Updated: January 16, 2023 8:29 am

Yatras are not uncommon in India. Adi Shankaracharya, Gautam Buddha and Guru Nanak Dev undertook long walks but always with a non-political purpose. Let us go back and recollect a few such yatras in the history. Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in January 1915 from South Africa. He was advised by his mentor Gopalkrishna Gokhale, a freedom fighter who belonged to the ilk of moderates in the Congress, to tour India for a year before embarking on any political activity. Its aim was to understand the people and their problems. He started his journey from Bombay and travelled across the length and breadth of the country. This helped him greatly in leading the freedom struggle.

Chandrashekhar, then President of the Janta Party, started his Bharat Yatra on January 6, 1983 from Kanyakumari and covering 4000 kms, reached Rajghat on June 25, 1983 (emergency was declared the same day!). His aim was to connect with the people and know their problems.

In 1991, Ekta Yatra was led by then BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi and was intended to signal that BJP supported national unity and opposed the separatist movement. Terrorism was at it’s peak in Jammu & Kashmir. It commenced on 11th December 1991 from Kanyakumari, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Subramanya Bharti (Tamil writer) and the Balidan Diwas of Guru Tegh Bahadur. The yatra passed through 14 states. The present Prime Minister Modi actively participated in it. The yatra was stopped at Patnitop (Jammu). MM Joshi reached Srinagar’s Lal Chowk in a military aircraft to unfurl the national flag on 26th January 1992.

YSR Reddy undertook 1500 kms long walk known as ‘Praja Prasthanam’ for two months in 2003. The aim was to connect with the people at grass root level as the Congress was weak in Andhra Pradesh and was facing defeats from regional Telegu Desam Party (TDP). His efforts brought him the dividends and TDP was defeated by the Congress and YSR became the Chief Minister in 2004. Chandra Babu Naidu was defeated in 2004 and 2009 by the Congress. He adopted the same strategy and undertook 208 days walkathon known as ‘Vastunna Meekosam’ covering 2800 kms in 2013 and he came back to power in 2014 after defeating the Congress.

Jagan Mohan Reddy had a foot march in 2017 for 341 days covering 3600 kms and became the CM in the next elections. In 2017, Congress leader Digvijay Singh undertook 3300 kms yatra on the banks of Narmada River. This six-month long walk brought Congress back to power defeating the BJP in 2018.  Bharat Jodo Yatra in an on-going movement started by the Congress and led by its leader Rahul Gandhi.  It is a move to revive the prospects of Congress and Rahul Gandhi both. It is about changing the nation’s mood and instilling confidence in the Congress cadre and the youth associated with it.  It has been launched by Rahul Gandhi and the Tamil Nādu Chief Minister M K Stalin on 7th September 22 from Kanyakumari and will reach Srinagar after covering a distance of 3570 kms in 150 days. This will pass through 12 states and two Union Territories (it has already entered UP, as this article was written) and will cover about 23 kms per day. Congress has appealed to the citizens, organizations and movements to join. Invitations have also been sent to many political parties and celebrities from the film industry. The members of the Gandhi family, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Robert Vadra and other senior Congress leaders joined the journey. No major opposition political leader participated. Recently Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati declined to participate in the yatra and have extended their good wishes only. The aim of this non-political journey, according to Congress, is to unite India against the alleged “divisive politics” of the BJP govt. and to safeguard the Constitution. During the journey, Rahul Gandhi has been addressing the rallies and the press conferences. He is raising the issues of poverty, unemployment, price rise and also criticizing the policy of the govt. on China and Pakistan. However, he has not made any concrete promise or spelt out how a future Congress rule will appear. If we look at  history, the long walks conducted by political parties or leaders have revived their careers. This yatra needs to be appreciated in the sense that Rahul Gandhi is getting a connect with the people and mobilising the workers. He has also been blessed by the Priest of Ayodhaya Ram Temple, Acharya Satyendra Das. RSS member Champat Rai has also appreciated him.

I will now mention the other aspects of this yatra, its name and motive. India is already united then what is the meaning of Bharat Jodo?  Instead, attempts must be made towards Congress Jodo as many senior leaders have left the party. As far as safeguarding the Constitution is concerned, there seems to be no threat to the Constitution of India. We all remember the way Rahul Gandhi tore the copy of the ordinance issued by the UPA govt. He also attracted controversy by meeting Christian Pastor George Ponniah who was arrested for hate speech. The participation of people like Kanhaiya Kumar and former RAW Chief Dulat is beyond comprehension. There is not much significance attached to Congress President Mallikarjun by the Congress leaders. Some of the Congress leaders have already declared Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate for 2024 election, without any internal due process in the party.   When Rahul Gandhi blames the present govt. for Pakistan and China Policy, he must not forget the history, because the root cause lies with the Congress policies, mainly on POK, Tibet and 1962 war. As far as talking of poverty now, he must not forget the “GARIBI HATAO” slogan given by Indira Gandhi in the mid-seventies and that nothing could be achieved by the successive Congress govts. It’s a matter of pride for us that India is the 5th economy of the world today.

The Congress leadership has failed to learn from the history and is repeating the mistakes of the past. This certainly appears the last attempt by the party to launch Rahul Gandhi. It would have been better to make him a minister in 2004 UPA govt. for 10 years. He could have got experience and maturity. The problem with the senior Congress leaders is that they are unable to look beyond the Gandhi family. The impact of this yatra will be nullified if Rahul Gandhi is projected as the Prime Ministerial candidate in the 2024 elections, ignoring other senior leaders.


By Manoj Dubey
Principal (Retd.)
Delhi Public Schools

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