The Floppy Aim
Bharat Jodo Yatra (literally translated into “Unite India March”) is an ongoing mass movement started by the Indian National Congress. The movement is being directed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has organised party members and members of the general public to walk 3,570 kilometres over 150 days, on foot from Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of the peninsula, to Jammu and Kashmir, which began on on September 7, 2022. Politicians, citizens, civil society organisations, and political activists are all present with Rahul Gandhi.
It can be seen as a particular kind of padayatra, which is a journey made by politicians or other prominent people to engage with various facets of society more closely, inform them about issues that affect them, and inspire their supporters. These protest movements have their roots in attempts to address economic issues, and combat communalism, unemployment, hatred, inflation, political centralization, and social unrest. This phenomenon is comparable to the padayatra, Mahatma Gandhi knew Salt March to Dandi in 1930. Gandhi also embarked on a nationwide padayatra against untouchability in the winter of 1933.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government in New Delhi is allegedly engaged in “divisive politics,” according to Congress, which is why they launched this movement to bring the nation together. Launched on September 7, 2022, by Gandhi and M. K. Stalin, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, its main goal is to combat the economics of livelihood destruction, rising unemployment, and widening inequalities as well as the politics of “fear, bigotry, and prejudice.”
During the movement, the party’s presidential election was held, and the party also established an independent government for the first time in four years.
Many different poems, songs, and slogans were used during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, including, Mile Kadam, Jude Vatan (walk together, unite the country), Mehengai Se Nata Todo, Mil Kar Bharat Jodo (break ties with inflation, unite India), Berozagari Ka Jaal Todo, Bharat Jodo (break the web of unemployment, unite India), Nafrat Chhodo, Bharat Jodo (quit hate, unite the country) and Samvidhan Bachao (save the constitution) among others.
There will be three different types of paediatric during the five-month yatra. The first people to complete the journey on foot will be Bharat Yatris. The second group will consist of Atithi Yatris from the states that the Bharat Jodo Yatra does not pass through. A total of 300 paediatric will be moving forward at any given time thanks to the Pradesh Yatris, those 100 yards that the state is traversing.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra has received support from or membership from numerous grassroots movements. The Congress has also urged individuals, groups, and movements to participate in the Yatra. More than 200 members of civil society have urged people to support the Bharat Jodo Yatra of the Congress. Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, and Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister, have each received invitations from the Indian National Congress to participate in the yatra.
At least 89 state-based organisations declared their support for and participation in the march as it prepared to enter Karnataka in late September. Author and intellectual Devanur Mahadeva, as well as professor and literary critic G. N. Devy, are prominent marchers in the Karnataka phase.
A Shiny Momento
This is the Momento of the “Bharat Jodo Yatra” movement.
“This Yatra aims to unite India; to come together and strengthen our nation. The Yatra began on 7th September from Kanyakumari and will pass through 12 states, culminating in Jammu and Kashmir – spanning a distance of nearly 3,500 Km over about 150 days.
The yatra has already received an overwhelming response; lakhs of people accompanied by Congress leaders have joined the movement to raise their voices against the economic, social and political issues that are dividing our nation today. The yatra seeks to address rampant unemployment & inflation, the politics of hate and division and the over-centralisation of our political system.
People from all walks of life are coming together to be a part of this historic movement. It is a celebration of India’s unity, cultural diversity and the incredible fortitude of her people.
This is an open invitation to all Indians to come and walk with us.
India belongs to us all.
‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ belongs to us all.”
The Flimsy Reactions
The BJP condemned the rally, dubbing it the “Parivar Bachao Rally” (Save Family March). These remarks came as Congress was preparing to hold a presidential election. On September 18, BJP Tamil Nadu president C.T. Ravi posted a picture of Rahul Gandhi and his niece on Twitter with malicious intent, prompting Ravi to delete the tweet in the face of public outrage and the filing of a case against him. The Congress responded by saying that the BJP had been “rattled” by the yatra and its overwhelming public support.
M.K. Stalin was present at the Yatra’s launch in Kanyakumari on September 7, and the DMK enthusiastically supported it.
The NCP initially distanced itself from the yatra, with its leader P. C. Chacko saying that “Cong’s yatra aimed to prove it is not dead”. However, NCP chief Sharad Pawar retracted his party’s comments, calling the yatra “extremely useful” for Congress and Rahul Gandhi. When the Bharat Jodo Yatra arrived in Maharashtra, senior NCP leaders such as Jayant Patil, Supriya Sule, and Jitendra Awhad joined it.
The Shiv Sena, through its mouthpiece Saamana, supported the Yatra and accused the BJP of being afraid of the Congress’ Yatra. According to Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Rahul Gandhi is one person who maintains friendship and affection despite political differences. Raut attributed the overwhelming response to the Bharat Jodo Yatra to love and compassion.
The AAP brushed off the yatra, saying it is of “no consequence”.
The CPI(M) initially chastised the Congress for that in a Twitter post “18 days in Kerala…2 days in Uttar Pradesh. Strange method of combating the BJP-RSS “, referring to the number of days spent in each state by the yatra. The Congress justified the decision by stating that Kerala is a long state from south to north “It takes 370 kilometres from Kanyakumari to reach Karnataka via Kerala. It would take 18 days to cover that distance if you took two days off “. The CPI(M) quickly softened its stance on the yatra, with Sitaram Yechury, its general secretary, saying “Every political party has the legal right to interact with the public. Going to people is beneficial “. He also said that the CPI(M) would join efforts to bring together the opposition parties to defend the constitution.
Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India participated in the Bharat Jodo Yatra and described it as an Indian Dakshinayana movement in which the influences of the South are carried to the North.
Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the Hindu-nationalist organisation RSS, reached out to minorities in the country shortly after the yatra began. The Congress party saw this sudden outreach as a result of and success of the yatra.
Hollywood actor John Cusack also extended his support to Bharat Jodo Yatra and said he stands in solidarity with “anti-fascists everywhere”.
Questionable Constructive Criticism
The Bharat Jodo Yatra has been chastised for avoiding the election-bound states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh defended the decision, claiming that it would take 90-95 days to reach Gujarat from Kanyakumari and that it would be “impossible” to arrive before the elections in Himachal Pradesh. He also stated that he and another senior Congress leader, Digvijaya Singh, will visit the states where the Yatra will be unable to pass.
In Kollam, three Congress workers demanded Rs 2000 from a street vendor, who gave them Rs 500. Following that, the workers damaged the vendor’s weighing machine and vegetables. Following the uproar, the workers were immediately suspended from the Congress party. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee chief K. Sudhakaran expressed regret over the incident, calling it “unacceptable” and “inexcusable”.
After hoardings welcoming Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra were ripped down in Gundlupet, Karnataka, on September 29, 2022, the Congress and the BJP clashed. There was a poster of Savarkar on the Congress Bharat Jodo Yatra route. The problem was blamed on “miscreants” by Congress. Savarkar’s image was previously seen on a poster for the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kerala.
The Congress encountered a few issues during the Karnataka leg of the yatra. Following the appearance of Rahul Gandhi’s image on the Karnataka flag, pro-Kannada activists protested and warned Congress not to use Gandhi’s image on the flag in the future.
Farmers protested during the Rajasthan leg of the Yatra, accusing the Congress government of failing to deliver on Rahul Gandhi’s promise of a farm loan waiver during the election campaign. They also complained about a lack of water.
The Kerala High Court’s Division Bench also dismissed a public interest lawsuit seeking to control the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra, which the petitioner claimed was impeding both vehicular and pedestrian traffic on public streets.