By Sushil Kutty
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is a late bloomer. That said, he has been a Member of Parliament several times over and, therefore, cannot be reduced to a Johnny-come-lately. And after Amethi, he wasn’t a stranger to the voters of Wayanad. But it is hardly likely that Rahul Gandhi will retrace his steps to Amethi, the constituency that rejected him but was also a pocket borough of the Gandhi family for the longest of time.
Then again, he has seen, after winning Wayanad in 2019, that the Kerala voter has only warm vibes for the Gandhi family scion. Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ wound through Kerala for the most number of BJY days, 18! And from the looks of it, the 2024 results will show how much of a success the Kerala leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra would turn out to be?
A year from now, we will know. If Rahul sticks to Wayanad, the Congress might even sweep ‘God’s Own Country’. But while Kerala is predictable, with the people of Kerala among the most enthusiastic about dynastic succession, Rahul Gandhi somehow does not fit the role of prince-charmer.
But if he lets the hair grow like he did during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, he might be the Pied Piper people have been waiting for all these nine years. For that to happen, however, he will have to reinvent himself in more ways than when he was walking the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
One of the developments since the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, and his London sojourn, is that it has become certain that the Congress wants Rahul Gandhi to be the prime ministerial face of the Opposition. To cement that thought, the Congress led by Rahul Gandhi must win at least three states, where assembly elections are lined up for this year.
The Congress must trounce the BJP in Karnataka, win Madhya Pradesh, and see to it that both Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are retained. This would require smaller versions of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, i.e., a ‘Madhya Pradesh Jodo Yatra’, a ‘Chhattisgarh Jodo Yatra’, and a ‘Rajasthan Jodo Yatra’.
Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ had cut through Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Carrying forward the Bharat Jodo Yatra, albeit on a smaller scale, would be a reminder of the moving geniality that characterized the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ when it wound its way from south to north.
To ensure that the best of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ did not go to waste, Rahul Gandhi should undertake statewide yatras. The container-homes must be still around. And people of the election-bound states would be influenced by the goodwill generated by the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
You see, the Congress victory in Himachal Pradesh was a sign of the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. And talking of the upcoming assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi and his cohorts, of whom none qualify to be “advisors”, shouldn’t waste time and resources running tit-for-tat maligning campaigns.
Instead, the focus should be on sticking to a single-issue diatribe directed specifically against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For Modi is the man to defeat! And something like the Modi-Adani-Hindenburg issue can put Modi in a bind.
That being said, the past few days have seen lots of hatred slung at each other by both parties. However, it would be a waste if the “golden chance” to startle the electorate into voting the Congress is not taken seriously by Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi’s epitabh, when it comes to being written, would be ‘Bloomer & Blooper’. It is only in the last six to seven months that Rahul Gandhi found his voice. Otherwise, it was a clique of Congress bigwigs who picked the choice of words for Rahul Gandhi. Congress bigwigs such as Jairam Ramesh who sticks to Rahul Gandhi’s shadow come rain or shine.
And then Rahul Gandhi forgets what he should be saying. The “Unfortunately, I am MP” shouldn’t have happened at all. But it did and part of the blame goes to Jairam Ramesh. The Congress ‘ideologue’ may not survive a Congress defeat in 2024.
Ideally, Rahul Gandhi should transform himself into a serious politician. And from what is being talked about, the transformation started long ago. At this point in time, Rahul Gandhi is considered by millions of Indians as a man honed to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2024. But those who want to thwart him and his plans include some of the biggest politicians in India. (IPA Service)