December 23, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss the impact of the Bharat Jodo Yatra after it recently completed 100 days. We also look at the increase in startups registering in Jammu & Kashmir, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
100 days of Bharat Jodo Yatra – Beginning of a Congress turnaround?
It’s said if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. That seems to be the mantra of the Congress and its Bharat Jodo Yatra. It’s garnered attention from all sections of the media. It has been lauded, ridiculed, and analysed every step of the way. Along the country-wide journey, Rahul Gandhi has been joined by some eminent personalities.
As it completed 100 days recently, the question remains – what’s next? Congress has a new President. That’s one change. But electorally, what’s in store for the party once the Yatra ends? Will it have been worth it? Will the people see the party differently?
On September 7, the Congress began its 3,570-km Bharat Jodo Yatra (United India march). Pitched as a pan-India march highlighting economic issues and polarization, it started in Kanyakumari and will end in Jammu & Kashmir. The slogan was Mile Kadam-Jude Vatan, roughly translating to the country will be together if our steps are united.
This wasn’t the first march organised by the party and Rahul Gandhi. In October 2020, he undertook a Kheti Bachao Yatra in Punjab, protesting against the farm laws. Four years earlier, he began travelling through Uttar Pradesh for 26 days, trying to help the party regain power in the state after 27 years.
Coming back to the Bharat Jodo Yatra, before he set out, Rahul Gandhi met with civil society members and invited them to participate. Among those who signed on were Swaraj India founder Yogendra Yadav and documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh outlined the goals and said the Yatra was the need of the hour. He spoke of inflation, unemployment, and communalism that have damaged India’s secular fabric.
As the Yatra completed 30 days, it entered BJP-ruled Karnataka. Here, Gandhi was joined by the late Gauri Lankesh’s mother and sister. As it completed 60 days, the Yatra entered Telangana. Gandhi met with representatives of various groups and asked about their problems.
As the Yatra went on, several famous and eminent personalities joined him on the journey. The latest was former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, who previously raised concerns about the Modi government’s policies. Bollywood jumped in, with Pooja Bhatt, Swara Bhasker, and Prakash Raj lending their support.
The Yatra completed 100 days recently. It now enters the final weeks. What will its legacy be? What will it do for Rahul Gandhi and the party’s electoral fortunes?
VIEW: It’s a long-term project
Sometimes, political fortunes can change quite quickly. At other times, they take a while. The latter may be true for the Congress once the Yatra ends. The Yatra isn’t for a couple of weeks or a month, it’s a 150-day journey across the country. It’s also a message for those in the party. What are they willing to do to address the issues as Gandhi walks for months, meeting people on the ground?
As the Yatra continued, there was some hope for the party. The results in Himachal Pradesh were a welcome sight as the party managed to stay together and form the government. Then comes the leadership role. Plenty was said and written about the Gandhis’ iron grip on the party. Now, they elected a new leader in Mallikarjun Kharge, who rose through the ranks from less than humble beginnings.
The culture of complacency in the party is being tackled head-on by the Yatra and Gandhi. People from all walks of life have responded positively as the party has gained some self-belief. It’s very much the precursor to the 2024 elections. While Gandhi himself might not be weighing in on whether the Yatra has rehabilitated his image, a CVoter survey showed his approval ratings improved in states he passed through. It’s hard to read the political tea leaves now, but the Congress has a solid base to build on.
COUNTERVIEW: Won’t do much electorally
The BJP’s machinery isn’t to be underestimated. It’s in power in most states and has a large financial and cadre pool. If 2024 is what we’re looking at, then it’s not a stretch to say the BJP is already planning and strategising. Meanwhile, when asked about 2024, Gandhi said that isn’t the main focus.
While the Yatra has certainly garnered a lot of attention, there’s an air of preaching to the choir. If the goal is to galvanise the liberal base, it has achieved that. It won’t be enough. If the Congress wants to return to power at the Centre, shouldn’t it be looking to convince some BJP voters to switch sides? If these voters want an alternative, the Congress needs to offer them a narrative.
Speaking of narrative, that’s the broader context through which this Yatra should be seen. Since 2014, the party has yet to be able to counter the BJP’s brand of politics with its own. It hasn’t been able to weave a narrative. Also, is Rahul Gandhi, effectively the face of the Yatra, the right person to write that narrative? While he may not be the party’s head, a lot of responsibility rests on his shoulders. If history is anything to go by, the remaining days of the Yatra might not change much.
- 3,500 kms, 12 states, 125 days – Congress’ ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ starts 7 Sept from Kanyakumari – The Print
- Congress to launch 3570-km Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kanyakumari today. – Mint
- As Bharat Jodo Yatra begins, here’s a look at earlier political rallies held by Rahul Gandhi – India Today
- Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra completes 60 days – The Statesman
- Celebs jump on Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra bandwagon – India Today
- 100 days of Bharat Jodo Yatra: Controversies, Rahul’s philosophical musings, and a lot of walking – Indian Express
- Over 100 days of Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul holds a mirror to Congress peers – The Federal
- 100 Days of Bharat Jodo Yatra: Congress Gained Self-Belief. Will It Gain Votes? – The Quint
- Bharat Jodo Yatra | Rahul Gandhi’s Ratings Up But Modi Lead Intact: CVoter Poll – The Quint
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) The Bharat Jodo Yatra will help the political fortunes of the Congress party.
b) The Bharat Jodo Yatra won’t help the political fortunes of the Congress party.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
India shouldn’t get caught in Pakistan’s cheap verbal war. Big nations can’t afford anger
For the Left:
Congress wants to pin Modi down on China issue. It’s holding the wrong end of the stick
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
400 new startups registered (Kashmir) – The number of startups that young people from the Kashmir Valley are launching in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has significantly increased. According to the government, over 400 new businesses have launched in the union territory over the past two years. Some major industries in which these start-ups have been launched include e-commerce, horticulture, agriculture, the food industry, and crafts.
Why it matters: The government of Jammu and Kashmir continues to prioritize reducing unemployment, and several government departments are urging young people in the Valley to establish new businesses. The establishment of hundreds of start-up companies in Kashmir, which not only support local businesses but also generate employment for hundreds of young people, has been hailed by the administration as a success.
5G services launched (Manipur) – Bharti Airtel, a telecom company, announced the launch of high-speed 5G services in some areas of Imphal on Wednesday. The high-speed services, according to Airtel, are currently only available in a select number of places, including the Akampat area, War Cemetery, Takyelpat region, RIMS Imphal area, New Secretariat, Babupara area, Nagaram, Ghari, Uripok, and Sagolband.
Why it matters: The services will improve user experience in a variety of industries, including agriculture, education, health, transportation, traffic management, smart cities, smart homes, and numerous Internet of Things applications, according to Manipur CM N Biren Singh, who virtually soft-launched the services in Manipur.
New hub for metalcraft (West Bengal) – Lalbazar, sometimes called Khwaabgram (the “village of dreams”), is about 4 kilometres from Jhargram and is home to people from the Lodha tribe, which the British once outlawed. It is currently becoming a centre for dokra, a metalcraft popular in Bengal, in addition to being a hub for art.
Why it matters: Dokra is an ancient custom with roughly a 5,000-year history. Dokra art creation is a difficult process. Making one figurine takes roughly a month. There are numerous steps involved, and in addition to other raw materials, seven to eight different types of clay are required. The fact that the raw materials, especially the metal, are readily available in Lalbazar works in artists’ favour.
First bullet train to run by 2027 (Gujarat) – By the end of August 2027, according to Rajendra Prasad, managing director of National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), the organization will try to operate high-speed trains in Gujarat. In December 2015, the project received approval with an estimated cost of ₹1,08,000 crore and an easy loan from Japan for 80% of the funding.
Why it matters: The first “bullet” train in the nation will travel through west India, covering the 508.17 kilometres between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in slightly less than two hours. This will cut the existing nine-hour (by bus) or six-hour travel time between the two terminals in half (by conventional railways).
First international Beach Festival (Kerala) – The “Bekal International Beach Festival,” a cultural extravaganza, will begin on December 24 in the far northern region of Kerala known as North Malabar, often known as the “Spice Coast.” At the event, which will be held at the three locations of Chandragiri, Thejaswini, and Payaswini, an estimated five lakh people from all over the world are expected to participate.
Why it matters: The festival will feature a feast of cultural and musical events, along with food festivals that capture the cuisine of Kasargod, exhibitions, and tour programmes. It also intends to revitalize the district’s growth by exhibiting its potential. The festival will also depict Kasargod’s historical face.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
1 million – According to a recent analysis, China is likely dealing with 1 million Covid infections and 5,000 virus deaths every day as it battles what is anticipated to be the largest outbreak the world has ever seen.