Rahul’s Unity March: Unsure about Political Gains
Asia News Agency
Rahul Gandhi ended his Unity March on January 30, walking 3,500 km and passing through 12 states in five months. Rahul himself claims the March was fulfilling. ‘I’ve learnt a lot, met lakhs of people, spoken to them. I don’t have words to describe it. The goal of the ‘yatra’ (March) was to unite India. It was against hate and violence. This has been the deepest and most beautiful experience of my life’. He further claimed that the ‘yatra’ had opened ‘shops of love in a market of hate’.
Congressmen hope that people will now see Rahul as a serious politician. Rahul, writes The Statesman “became popular, particularly in the South, where he drew huge crowds. His interaction with the public and press conferences en route helped present an alternative political option for those against the BJP. He raised issues like inequality, unemployment, rising prices, security on the border, and inflation. He did all that clever politicians do, like carrying children in his arms at times and interacting with youth, women, and seniors as he walked holding their hands.”
Congress’ goals need to be more than a ‘yatra’
Rahul should use this 'Yatra ‘experience for his future. The most challenging thing, writes The Statesman “is to convert the crowds who came to see him into votes. For this, he needs organisation……The Congress has pinned hopes on the ‘yatra’ to improve its political standing in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Its electoral gains will be tested before that, as nine states are going to polls this year.”
Another goal of the ‘yatra’ was for the Congress to “emerge as the Opposition leader, uniting all non-BJP parties. But the Opposition parties have rival candidates….Though Rahul had invited many Opposition leaders to participate in the conclusion of the ‘yatra’ in Kashmir last week, only leaders from 11 parties attended.”
It is common knowledge that a divided Opposition is Modi’s key to returning for a third term.
But “the ‘yatra’ has given new hope to the Congress and the Gandhi family…..For the Congress and the Opposition, the next 14 months are crucial to this goal of remaining relevant in politics.”