September 14, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether Bharat Jodo Yatra by the Congress party is the need of the hour or a political gimmick. We also look at the increase in films being shot in Jammu and Kashmir, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Bharat Jodo Yatra – Need Of The Hour Or Political Gimmick?
The Bharat Jodo Yatra (Uniting India Rally) organized by Congress and led by Rahul Gandhi kicked off on September 7 from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. Claimed as the longest rally organised in the country, the party aims to conduct this padayatra (foot march) from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, covering 12 states and two Union territories.
Congress articulated that the purpose of this march is unlike ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and aims to ensure that the concerns and demands of the people reach Delhi. Is such a Yatra the need of the hour, or just a political gimmick by the Congress party?
Perhaps the most ambitious political project launched by the Congress, the padayatra is set to cover nearly 3,500 km and will continue for 150 days. At a time when Congress is straying outside its comfort zone to secure polls, the Bharat Jodo Yatra could be just what it needs.
For the first time in the history of the party, Congress has announced that it will step outside for its presidential election and carry out the process through a democratic vote. A fresh leader along with the Yatra could emerge as more votes for the party. Rahul Gandhi has made it clear that he will not take over the reins of the party.
Conducting a rally to secure votes, however, is not new in the political space. The Sangh Parivar also held its Rath Yatra in the early 1990s which followed a similar pattern to the Bharat Jodo Yatra. This move reaped electoral dividends for the RSS allowing them to meticulously cultivate a Hindu Samaj and a Hindu vote bank.
While the BJP has maintained its vote share since 2019, the electoral support of Congress is wavering. In 2019, the vote share of the BJP jumped to 36%, almost double that of Congress. The BJP also managed to increase its vote shares in many states including non-Hindi states such as Karnataka. Given this, will the Bharat Jodo Yatra bring dividends to the Congress party?
VIEW: Bharat Jodo Yatra is the need of the hour
While the Congress has projected Bharat Jodo as a non-political and non-party national event, the march is taking place in regions where the party requires improvement in its electoral performance in the 2024 general elections. The programme is of utmost importance in the current political sphere as it is portrayed as the saviour of India from the divisive Hindutva ideology. Congress expects this initiative to raise questions regarding the economy, social polarisation, and political centralization.
Congress claimed that at a time when destructive and divisive forces are “patronized” by the BJP-led government, the party that fought against the British and contributed to the independence of the country could not sit idle. Tariq Anwar, the AICC general secretary in charge of Kerala stated that a nation with people belonging to different castes and communities should not indulge in divisive politics as it would weaken the country. The Yatra serves as an opposing force to the same.
Despite its authoritarian nature, many will agree that the current BJP regime is sustained by blatant support from the people. Additionally, the Sangh Parivar has worked relentlessly to push its Hindu Rashtra agenda against the backdrop of opposition parties flailing. At a time like this, it is extremely important that Congress establishes a strong footing. The Bharat Jodo Yatra could get the ball rolling to this end.
The cry of “Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan” by the Sangh Parivar is in sharp contrast to the populist welfarism that has been championed by all the previous Congress governments, and this makes it all the more urgent for the party to come forward. While the BJP looks at welfare projects benefitting only those who are “grateful” to their Prime Minister, Congress perceives rights-bearing citizens as entitled to these benefits.
COUNTERVIEW: Bharat Jodo Yatra is a political gimmick
The Bharat Jodo Yatra initiative by Congress has received major backlash from many parties, more prominently from the BJP and RSS. In response to a tweet captioned by Congress “To free the country from shackles of hate and undo the damage done by BJP-RSS,” the RSS Sah Sarkaryavah Manmohan Vaidya said that the party is attempting to unite the country based on hatred instead of affection. He deemed the Yatra as a political gimmick against this backdrop.
The Communist Party of India (CPM) also slammed Congress for conducting the Yatra and claimed it to be a “strange way to fight BJP-RSS.” This was articulated in a tweet after the party pointed out that the Yatra was set to spend 18 days in Left-ruled Kerala but only two days in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh. The tweet also wondered if the campaign was ‘Bharat Jodo’ or ‘Seat Jodo’ alluding to the Yatra as a tactic to gain electoral support.
Many are of the opinion that while the Yatra could contribute to Rahul Gandhi’s makeover, it may not work for the party in terms of polls. Elections are won with the help of a strong party organization and ground strength, and Congress has a lot of ground to cover with regard to both of these.
It should not go unnoticed that Congress derives some of its political-ideological ideas from the BJP including economic liberalization, savarna casteism, and soft Hindutva. What is needed for the country is not a refix (Jodo) but a complete reconstruction. Support for the Yatra should be accompanied by the acknowledgement of its limitations and the fascist challenges the party faces in addition to the electoral challenge.
- Bharat Jodo Yatra: All you need to know about Congress’s Kanyakumari to Kashmir rally – Indian Express
- Bharat Jodo Yatra is the need of the hour in India, says Congress – Telegraph India
- What the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ Is, Isn’t and Should Be – The Wire
- CPM Slams Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra: “Strange Way To Fight BJP-RSS” – NDTV
- Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is ‘political gimmick’ if based on hatred: RSS – New Indian Express
- ‘Bharat Jodo’ and ‘Congress Jodo’ as opportunities – The Hindu
- Rahul Banks on ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ for Image Makeover But Can Yet Another Renunciation Save Gandhis, Cong? – News18
What’s your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) Bharat Jodo Yatra is the need of the hour.
b) Bharat Jodo Yatra is a political gimmick.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
The Inconvenient Truths On The Kartavya Path
For the Left:
Kashi Vishwanath Temple vs Gyanvapi Mosque: Why Hindus Have A Stronger Case
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Bollywood returns to Kashmir (Jammu & Kashmir) – The J&K government has received more than 500 applications from filmmakers to shoot in the valley. So far, the government has granted 150 approvals. Officials believe the state is poised to get a boost with productions underway in the state. It’s not only Bollywood, but filmmakers from the South are looking to shoot in the state too. The new film policy ensures approvals within 30 days with a single-window system.
Why it matters: In the 1980s, the state used to be a popular location for Bollywood. As insurgency began, film productions looked elsewhere due to security concerns. For local artists, the new policy is a boon as it’ll help their careers and livelihoods. As productions get underway in the state, there’s an opportunity for local talent to be hired as crew members. The state’s first multiplex will also be opened later this month.
HC directive on clearing encroachments (Karnataka) – The state high court asked the BBMP and the state government to take steps to clear all encroachments on stormwater drains. The court criticised the BBMP for its failure to do so earlier. The court also wants a status report on the prevention of waste being dumped into the pollutants. The order came on a plea filed by activist Geetha Misra who provided photographic evidence.
Why it matters: The BBMP has faced some resistance from owners but went ahead with demolitions since they had orders from senior officials. The BBMP also released 15 names including IT parks and realty firms who have allegedly encroached on the stormwater drains. The clearing of these encroachments will begin soon, according to BBMP officials.
JD(U) panchayat members join BJP (Bihar) – Since Nitish Kumar broke off his alliance with the BJP, things haven’t been smooth between the JD(U) and the BJP. Now, 15 of the 17 district panchayat members of JDU have joined the BJP. It comes in the wake of the JD(U) partnering with the RJD, their main political rival. Nitish Kumar has accused the BJP of trying to take away his power in the state by creating a Maharashtra-like scenario.
Why it matters: The news of legislators jumping ship and joining the BJP has been happening in other states too. A few days before in Arunachal Pradesh, several JDU MLAs joined the BJP. In Manipur, 5 of the 7 switched to the BJP. In the recent elections in Bihar, the BJP secured a majority with 32 of the 60 seats. But Nitish Kumar decided to end the alliance, ensuring the BJP would lose power.
Vedanta’s semiconductor unit (Gujarat) – Vedanta has chosen Gujarat to set up its semiconductor manufacturing unit. The formal announcement will come later this week with an MoU between the company and the state government. The initial investment will be $2 billion and increase to $20 billion as the company scales up operations. The company is confident of getting international orders once the unit is up and running.
Why it matters: Anil Agarwal, Vedanta Group chairman, said the government’s incentives for the semiconductor industry could help India become the next Silicon Valley or Taiwan. It’s one of five companies that have applied for the government’s ₹76,000-crore incentive scheme. He believes electronics has potential for growth as the country already has manufacturing units for products like phones.
Consolidating the education department (Assam) – Assam now has the Department of School Education, a combination of the Department of Elementary Education and the Department of Secondary Education. The merger is in keeping with the National Education Policy (NEP). The state education minister also said, concerning the NEP, that the state has already implemented 4-year degree courses in colleges. This will come into effect from next year.
Why it matters: At the Central ministry level, there is only the Department of School Education. The state wanted to streamline and keep the state education department in line with the Ministry of Human Resources. It’s one of the reasons for the merger. The state also plans to merge schools that have unsustainable enrollment.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
30 – The number of new aircraft Air India will add to its fleet in the coming months. The company has signed agreements with Airbus for 25 narrow-body planes and Boeing for 5 wide-body planes. It currently has 113 planes in its fleet.