Call it misplaced faith in the Gandhi name or overconfidence, the Congress has announced the second leg of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra which will begin from Gujarat and conclude in Meghalaya. The announcement was made by Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole on 8th August.
It is a herculean task to point out exactly which part of Bharat Jodo phase one – Rahul Gandhi’s brainchild – was deemed as successful enough to launch phase two. The Bharat Jodo yatra phase one began on 7 September 2022 from Kanyakumari and concluded on 30th January this year in Kashmir’s Srinagar.
It covered a distance of 3,970 km through 12 states and two union territories, a big fat splurge, some deaths, and several controversial faces giving several controversial statements. It was far from the idea of uniting looking at the number of “breaking India” forces that had attended the yatra.
To put it more directly, the Gandhi loyalists tried to relaunch their prince through Brand Bharat Jodo but managed only to turn it into a photo op for the dynast. Rahul Gandhi’s so-called interactions with the youth looked staged for most of them seemed to make for a mere Twitter post and nothing more. Despite having the opportunity to learn about and address challenges specific to every city and state as an Opposition MP, the Congress leader stuck to a story-telling script that at most times seemed too good to be true.
In one of his rallies, the crowd was heard chanting “Modi, Modi” defeating the very premise of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo yatra. At the very outset, for the Gandhi dynast to think that Bharat needs Rahul Gandhi’s special touch to be united (jodo) is highhanded; and for the party to think that India needs a second Bharat Jodo yatra is just stupid.
Of course, the Congress MP’s idea of Bharat Jodo is rooted in the delusion that India is divided when not ruled by the Gandhi-led Congress government; it will do well for the Congress “high command” to realise that it needs to put its own house in order before launching another container rally.
Bharat Jodo Yatra phase one: The beginning of a vanity project
For starters, Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra began at a time when the Congress was facing dissent, resignations, internal tussle, and so on. On the very first day, the yatra made headlines for roping in “Breaking India” forces like Yogendra Yadav, Aruna Rai, Medha Patkar, PV Rajagopal, Devenura Mahadev, Ali Anwar, Dr. Sunilam, and Bezwada Wilson.
Another row erupted the very same day when Congress’ “daamaad ji” Robert Vadra indicated the beginning of his political career, inviting “Parivaar Jodo” and “Bhrashtachar Jodo” comments from the BJP. In a manner of speaking, phase one of the Bharat Jodo yatra began amid much pomp and pageantry.
All the PR and marketing of the supposed foot march was all for nothing as it turned out that the Gandhi scion along with his team was rallying with 59 luxury containers equipped with beds, attached bathrooms, air-conditioners, couches, mini conference halls and what have you. The entire fiasco cost nearly Rs 300 crore. But what could he have done if not take upon his shoulders the burden of the spoils that come along with the Gandhi name?
10 September 2022: As Christian priest insults Hindu deities, Rahul Gandhi watches
“Janeu-dhari Brahmin” Rahul Gandhi was short of words to defend his purported identity when an anti-Hindu pastor, George Ponnaiah said, “He (Jesus Christ) is a real God, revealed as a human person. Not like Sakthi and all.” Questions were raised as to why the dynast would meet with a pastor who has a history of taking anti-Hindu stand in the past.
On 18 July 2021, the controversial pastor insulted Bharat Mata by claiming that “she is dirty and can cause scabies.” He said this during his public address in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu where he mocked BJP candidate MR Gandhi for not wearing footwear out of respect for Mother Earth (Bhumadevi/Bharat Mata).
12 September, 2022: Ajit Pawar distances from yatra
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar had reacted to the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra saying it was the party’s own campaign and not the collective effort of the United Progressive Alliance.
When asked if the Opposition parties backed Rahul Gandhi’s 150-day Container Yatra, Ajit Pawar said, “Congress started Bharat Jodo Yatra, they started on their own. It’s not the UPA’s Bharat Jodo Yatra and they won’t ask us about it.”
26 September, 2022: When RaGa met cow slaughterer
Rahul Gandhi courted controversy after he met the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) leader, who slaughtered a cow in broad daylight in 2017 to mock Hindu sentiments.
In 2017, in defiance against the centre’s move to enforce a ban on cow slaughter, Rijil Makkutty along with his aides dragged a calf and brutally slaughtered it in the middle of a road. The cow is considered a sacred animal by Hindus and the act of publically slaughtering a calf was meant to send a strong signal to Hindus and a pro-Hindu government at the centre.
2 November, 2022: Daughter of Zakir Naik’s sympathiser joins Rahul Gandhi
Former Bollywood actress and filmmaker Pooja Bhatt had joined Rahul Gandhi in his container rally called ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. Pooja Bhatt is the daughter of director Mahesh Bhatt who is known to have hailed Islamist hate preacher Zakir Naik.
Director Mahesh Bhatt had praised Islamist hate preacher and fugitive Zakir Naik while his son and Pooja Bhatt’s brother Rahul Bhatt was in connection with David Coleman Headley who had carried out the recce of Mumbai for Lashkar-E-Taiba before the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
4 November 2022: Muslim ‘intellectuals’ sing victimhood ‘RaGa’
When the yatra was passing Telangana, Muslim ‘intellectuals’ and leaders aired their grievances to Rahul Gandhi. In Hyderabad, Rahul Gandhi also delivered a speech from a temporary stage erected in front of Charminar Mosque, a stronghold of AIMIM.
Several issues were reportedly discussed between the Muslim intellectuals and Rahul Gandhi ranging from the supposed persecution of the Muslim community to the preservation and protection of Waqf properties.
Saba Quadri, a social worker, said, “Muslims have been under attack always. On whether Congress would protect Muslims if it comes to power, he said that Congress has always been a secular party and I will stand by its ideology.”
5 November, 2022: When a music label sued RaGa
MRT Music, a Bengaluru-based music company launched a copyright infringement lawsuit against Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Supriya Srinate, and Jairam Ramesh.
The company had alleged that the Congress party utilized songs from the Hindi version of the Kannada super-hit film KGF: Chapter 2 without permission to produce video content for the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra of the party led by Rahul Gandhi.
8 November, 2022: Congress neta passes away during rally
Congress leader Krishna Kumar Pandey passed away while participating in the Maharashtra leg of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra.’ Pandey, who was 75, was the general secretary of the Congress Seva Dal.
Jairam Ramesh used his leader’s death as a political opportunity to recall that the deceased Congressman used to take on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Nagpur “…Krishna Kumar Pandey was a staunch Congressman and used to take on the RSS in Nagpur. It is a most humbling moment for all the Yatris,” he tweeted.
10 November, 2022: When Rahul pitted Maharashtra against Gujarat
Rahul Gandhi in Nanded district of Maharashtra targeted Gujarat alleging that projects such as the Tata-Airbus military aircraft partnership and the Vendanta-Foxconn semiconductor plant were stolen from Maharashtra and handed to Gujarat ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in the neighboring state.
12 November, 2022: Lawyer who defended Nirav Modi in UK joins yatra
After the UK High Court had rejected Nirav Modi’s appeal against his extradition to India, retired Bombay High Court judge and Congress leader Abhay Thipsay, who was a defense witness of Nirav Modi, was seen at Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Abhay Thipsay, who joined the Congress party in 2018, appeared as a defense witness for Nirav Modi in a hearing in a UK court in 2020.
17 November 2022: That time when Congress played the Nepalese national anthem…
In a big embarrassment for the Congress and a more personal one for Rahul Gandhi, the Nepalese National Anthem was played instead of Indian National Anthem at the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Furthermore, Rahul Gandhi and other leaders on the stage kept calling it National Song while the National Anthem, ‘Jana Gana Mana,’ was supposed to be played.
21 November 2022: Left propagandist Medha Patkar joins Yatra
Left-leaning liberals and intellectuals had a meltdown after the Times of India reported PM Modi’s factual comments against ‘activist’ Medha Patkar after she participated in Congress party’s PR stunt ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
PM Modi had launched a blistering attack against Congress after ‘activist’ Medha Patkar, infamous for her role in delaying the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada, joined Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
25 November 2022: “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans raised at Bharat Jodo Yatra
‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi faced another controversy after a video appeared on social media showing ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans being raised in the rally in the Khargone area of Madhya Pradesh. BJP’s Amit Malviya posted a video on November 25 and alleged that pro-Pakistani slogans were being raised at the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
He also shared the screenshot of the video posted by the Congress party in Madhya Pradesh and said that the post was later deleted by MP Congress after they realized that pro-Pakistani slogans were being yelled at the Yatra.
1 December 2022: Swara Bhaskar joins Rahul Gandhi’s yatra
So-called Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar joined the Congress party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra and walked with Rahul Gandhi to resist ‘hate’.
Known for her anti-BJP rants, Swara Bhasker lauded Rahul Gandhi and wrote on Twitter, “Joined @bharatjodo yatra today & walked with @RahulGandhi. The energy, commitment & love is inspiring! The participation & warmth of common people, the enthusiasm of Congress workers & RG’s attention & care toward everyone & everything around him is astounding!”
2 December 2022: When Rahul Gandhi tried to appropriate Hindu faith
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had attacked BJP-RSS, claiming that they don’t chant ‘Jai Siya Ram’ or ‘Jai Sita Ram’ and instead opt for ‘Jai Sri Ram’ because women have no place in their organization. He ended up questioning the ancient and historic religious and spiritual chant which is chanted by all Hindus alike.
Gandhi, whose party had questioned the existence of Lord Ram previously, co-opted ‘Jai Sri Ram’, ‘Jai Siya Ram’ and ‘Hey Ram’ and gave it his own spin to attack the BJP-RSS.
“What does ‘Jai Siya Ram’ mean? Jai Sita and Jai Ram, means Sita and Ram are the same. That’s why the slogan is Jai Siya Ram or Jai Sita Ram. Lord Ram fought for the honour of Sita Ji. We call ‘Jai Siya Ram’ and respect women like Sita in the society,” Gandhi said.
12 December 2022: Cong internal tussle breaks out in public during Yatra
Two factions of Congress workers came face to face in Uttar Pradesh. A brawl took place when the party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra was passing through Uttar Pradesh’s Kaushambi district’s Bharwari block.
The Congress workers reportedly engaged in fist fights and attacked each other with sticks and lathis in the presence of senior Congress leaders. Videos of the fight had gone viral on social media.
14 December 2022: Cong Coterie at Bharat Jodo yatra
A critic of the Modi government, former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan had joined Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in his Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Raghuram Rajan is not the only one who caught the eye for joining Bharat Jodo Yatra. Before him, there were several controversial personalities that joined Rahul Gandhi in his march. For example, Yogendra Yadav was part of the Yatra for some time. He even released a video praising the march conducted by Congress across India.
19 December 2022: When anti-Sikh riots culprit almost joined Rahul Gandhi’s yatra
Congress drew massive flak after reports of Jagdish Tytler joining the yatra surfaced. Controversial leader and anti-Sikh riots accused Jagdish Tytler had attended the Delhi Congress unit’s meeting over the preparations of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. He said, “We will participate because we are in favor of what he (Rahul Gandhi) is doing. So, we will participate in a big way.”
21 December 2022: When Congress refused to adhere to covid protocol
Congress leader and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot claimed that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is alarmed by seeing the popularity of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Gehlot said this after Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya penned a letter to him and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi cautioning them in the wake of increasing COVID cases in China.
Instead of taking Minister Mandaviya’s letter seriously and acting accordingly, Gehlot and other Congress leaders were politicizing a serious health issue like Covid. Rajasthan CM said that “lakhs of people are joining the Yatra. Modi government is scared and that is why they are writing such politically motivated letters.”
21 December 2022: Caught on cam – When RaGa lost his cool
A video of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) went viral where the Congress leader was seen pushing down the phone of a fan who wanted a selfie with him. The video appeared to be from Rajasthan and was shot early morning on December 21, Gandhi was seen surrounded by his supporters on the stage.
All of them wanted to get clicked with the leader and started pushing each other. Irked by the situation, Gandhi angrily pushed down the phone of a fan who was trying to get a selfie with him. He seemed irritated with the attempt to take a selfie with him and did not allow the man to take the selfie.
23 December 2022: DMK leader arrested under UPA rule joins yatra
Tamil Nadu MP and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) Deputy General Secretary Kanimozhi Karunanidhi joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in Haryana.
Notably, DMK MP Kanimozhi who is the daughter of DMK chief M Karunanidhi was arrested in the year 2011 leading to a strained alliance between the DMK and the Congress at that time. The MP was arrested in the 2G scandal and it was alleged that she had taken around Rs 200 crore in bribes in the case. Congress-led UPA-II government was in power at that time.
Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra has several more controversies to its credit. Bharat Jodo 2.0 – clubbed with Rahul Gandhi’s return to the Parliament with his Prime Ministerial aspirations for 2024 – will surely come with its fair share of drama far from disappointing.