Rahul’s Bharat Jodo yatra pushes Pappu behind, strikes a chord — but hard work awaits off-camera | Political Pulse News,The Indian Express

It goes without saying that the acid test of Rahul’s yatra will lie in winning elections. But, curiously, he has tried to delink the yatra from electoral gains, not to appear power hungry —but this makes little sense. A political party is nothing if it cannot win elections and deliver on its promises.

I went to see the yatra in Maharashtra and most of the people I talked to, driving 250 km from Aurangabad to Akola, and later following the yatra in Buldhana district, had, to my surprise, a positive word to say about the yatra. These were the aam aadmi and the aam aurat: a retired teacher, a fruit seller, a housewife, a cobbler, most of them in small towns and wayside villages. They all expressed a similar sentiment: “Paidal chalkar abhi tak humare paas koi nahin aaya hai. Humaen pasand aa raha hai.”(Nobody has come to us on foot like this and we like it.)

A polio-hit retired government servant, 74, came from Nagpur with his son and daughter-in-law—old Congressis — to be part of the yatra for a few hours “to encourage Rahul”. An assistant professor from Amravati joined the yatra in Shegaon and said the time had now come “to work at the ground level because the opposition is blanked out.”

Rahul talked about “berozgari, mehngai and nafrat,” (unemployment, inflation, hate) as he has done in the past, but it is resonating with many more today. With growing economic distress, some say they identify more with what Rahul “had been saying all along”.

It is not so much Rahul Gandhi who has changed — as his comments on Savarkar illustrated; he had criticised in Maharashtra someone who is seen as an icon in the state.

Nor do Rahul’s speeches set the house on fire. In a way, they are reminiscent of Rajiv Gandhi in the early years. In his campaign speeches in the 1983 state elections in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka — which the Congress lost — Rajiv used to painstakingly explain the value of hard work and abstract concepts of political freedom to puzzled audiences. In his speech at Shegaon, Rahul, too, dwelt philosophically, and at length, on the need to shed fear, and the linkages it had with hatred and violence.


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