Congress represents the forces from above while the people’s movement organisation represents the forces from below. If both these forces come on one page in resisting the policies of the government, it can provide an alternative to the BJP.
Syed Ali Mujtaba
TODAY, both the idea of India and Indian democracy are in a state of deepening existential crisis. While the idea of India is under threat from the notion of Hindu Rashtra, the Indian democracy is in jeopardy due to elected autocracy under one-party rule. These twin threats to the idea of India emerged after the right-wing forces usurped the political power in India. The centrist forces are left with no option but to fret and fume over the turn of events in the country.
Those keenly watching the political developments wish to avert the looming disaster and the threat it poses to the independence and the democratic structure of the country. While aspirations to reverse this trend are high, there is none to rise to the occasion and call off the bluff.
Against this backdrop, the Indian National Congress did well to embark on a ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ campaign that will commence on September 7 from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and culminate at Srinagar in Kashmir. The padyatra (trek) will cover a distance of 3,500 km and traverse through 12 states and two Union territories in 125 days. The march will be flagged off by Rahul Gandhi.
The idea of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is to coordinate with mutual resisting forces and unite them on diverse planes to provide a combined and consolidated effective opposition to the ruling dispensation in India.
The Congress party in this regard is successful in getting the consent of about 150 well-known representatives of people’s movements from 20 states. These are no political entities working at the grassroots level as non-governmental organisations that have agreed to join hands with the Congress mass contact programme of its ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. This is a significant moment in the relationship between the people’s movement and the political party in the country.
As many may agree, India faces an extraordinary challenge that requires an extraordinary approach to deal with the situation. The alignment of the grass-root groups with the political party could be an effective democratic resistance to the assaults on democratic institutions and constitutional values of India.
The challenges faced by the country have forced these grassroots groups to connect with mainstream opposition political parties like Congress to provide an effective resistance to the undemocratic forces in India. The joining of such a large number of people’s movements and organisations is a significant move. It’s expected that something positive may come out of this ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
The apparent reason the Congress is going for the long and arduous ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is to raise issues like inflation, GST, unemployment, social polarization, over-centralisation, the death knell to federalism, etc., but the real reason is to rejuvenate the Congress party whose morale is sagging every day to wanton desertion and it has lost touch with the people.
The party is faced with the problem of a decline in its vote share and only a few MPs and MLAs are getting elected contesting on its ticket. In this context, the padayatra plan is to connect the Congress party with the people and build a mass base so that it can reemerge as a formidable force to face the electorate.
According to Congress sources, the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ will follow a linear path from Kanyakumari to Kashmir for logistical and geographical reasons. Every state would have its own padayatra in tandem with the main yatra. The main march would cover approximately 25 kilometers every day on foot and a core group of 100 to 150 people would actually walk the whole distance.
The party has launched the logo, slogan, and website for the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. The slogan is ‘Mile Kadam-Jude Vatan’, meaning: “the country will be together if our steps are united”.
Here it’s apparent that India’s oldest party is only in the position to provide an alternative to the existing ruling dispensation. The regional forces are quite disjointed and the efforts in the past to form a third front have remained a non-starter. In this context, Congress remains the only alternative to replace the BJP.
The big picture is that Congress alone can bind the nation together in a true federal structure with an inclusive society built on communal harmony. The main strength of the party is its ideology which rests on taking India forward on the economic strength of the country. The sheer depth of the Congress ideology has its own inherent strength and if its message is properly taken to the people, it can surely turn the tables.
There may be many reservations about the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, and its success and failure are a matter of conjecture. However, the fact remains that Congress alone can unite all the forces of resistance and provide an alternative to getting rid of the kind of politics thrust upon the people of this country.
The newfound unity between the people’s movement organisation and the Congress party is expected to build a strong Opposition to the BJP at the grassroots level. Congress represents the forces from above while the people’s movement organisation represents the forces from below. If both these forces come on one page in resisting the policies of the government, it can provide an alternative to the BJP.
‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is not a mere roadshow, but a mass contact movement of people’s resistance. If this campaign is fiercely executed in the style of Azadi ka Mahautsav, it may turn out to be a mass resistance that may take shape of ‘Roak Sako To Roak Lo.’
India certainly needs such kind of vehicle for change. A vehicle curated by the people, for the people, and to the people. The people’s involvement is much needed to shape the future of India. Such intervention is a must, keeping in view the general election for the Lok Sabha due in 2024. Can ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ turn out to be a ‘deliverance Day’ for India?
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. The views expressed here are author’s personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org