Win some, lose some: How Bharat Jodo Yatra shaped assembly results?
Mixed results for Congress' Bharat Jodo Yatra as it wins in Karnataka and Telangana but loses in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
The Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra energised the Congress' rank and file but the jury is out on the electoral impact it had on the states through which it passed with the party winning Karnataka in May and now Telangana while losing the Hindi-heartland states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The assembly polls following the yatra has thrown up a mixed 2-2 result. Karnataka and Telangana went to the Congress but it suffered crushing defeats in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan at the hands of the BJP. The Congress also lost Chhattisgarh to its rival but the yatra had not passed through that state.
Polls in Hind-heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and the southern state of Telangana were held between November 7 and 30, and votes were counted on Sunday.
The Congress in May had hailed the last year's Bharat Jodo Yatra for the party's success in the polls to the 224-member Karnataka assembly. The party had won 15 of the 20 assembly constituencies in the state the foot march had passed through.
During its poll campaign in Telangana, the Congress had been hailing the yatra for its turnaround in Karnataka with several leaders saying that the foot march had not only energised party workers but also connected the party with the common people.
Electorally, the yatra seems to have paid dividends in the south as both in Karnataka and Telangana, the Congress gained momentum with it and went on to score emphatic wins against formidable opponents, the BJP and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi, respectively.
However, the march does not seem to be helping the Congress in stopping the BJP's surge in the Hindi-heartland states. The yatra stayed in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for long but it has not had much of an electoral impact.
Former Congress leader and political commentator Sanjay Jha said the Bharat Jodo Yatra has been a "turning point" for both the Congress and Rahul Gandhi.
"It helped motivate the cadre and galvanize supporters. The results of today's elections in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh tells us that the undercurrent of rising Hindutva is now becoming more overt. The majoritarian dominance story has overwhelmed unemployment, farmer distress, economic growth, corruption, and governance failures," he told PTI.
Unfortunately, neither the Congress nor the opposition has tried to even offer a counter-narrative to the BJP's religious card, Jha said.
"The Hindi-heartland is sending a message. Karnataka and Telangana were focused more on local welfare issues which is why the Congress triumphed," he said.
"The yatra was a mass movement and not just a long walk, and evidently in the south, it created a bond with its messaging of a secular, syncretic India. But I would not credit the wins in Karnataka and Telangana to the yatra alone, albeit it was an instrumental factor for sure," Jha asserted.
Political commentator Rasheed Kidwai believes the yatra was "high on optics" but "low on substance".
"The Bharat Jodo Yatra was high on optics low on substance...Rahul plus the Congress is unable to take on (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and the BJP on positive Hindutva and cultural nationalism. This aspect is glaring in northern states and the Hindi belt," he said.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra traversed 12 states and two Union territories in nearly five months after its launch on September 7 last year, clocking more than 4,000 km.
During the course of the yatra, Rahul Gandhi addressed 12 public meetings, more than 100 corner meetings, 13 press conferences. He had over 275 planned walking interactions and more than 100 sitting interactions.
While the yatra had stayed for about 15 days in Telangana, it covered nearly 500 km in six districts of Rajasthan in 16 days. The yatra was in Karnataka for about 22 days and for 12 days in Madhya Pradesh.
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