By Arun Srivastava
BENGALURU: Before Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi entered Karnataka on September 30 and is getting massive response. The disinformation unit of the BJP had tried to create the impression across the country ably assisted by the mainstream media, especially the TV news channels, that the Yatra had lost its velocity and thrust and would not have any impact on the people of Karnataka which has a BJP government and would have elections to the assembly early 2023.
But this innuendo failed to have any impact on the people of Karnataka and it would not be hyperbole to say that the Yatra which was like a storm in Kerala has attained the character of hurricane in Karnataka. Even the close aides of Rahul and senior state Congress leaders are amazed at the peoples’ response. No doubt the state Congress leaders had worked hard to ensure a better participation, but they did not expect this nature of massive response.
One development that ought to be paid serious attention is the attempt of Rahul Gandhi to change the contour of the politics. In the Azadi Ka Amrita Mahotsva year in New India of Narendra Modi, it is interesting to underline that the polity of the country is witnessing emergence of a new type of moral politics which emphasises on upholding moral values and adhering to the moral ethics in the politics. This is quite apparent from the politics being propounded by Rahul through his Yatra. This is different than the real politics being pursued by the BJP of Narendra Modi and other political parties. His political concept has virtually posed a serious threat to the existing political intrigues.
His thrust on moral politics was evident during his Yatra. Though the bickering between the Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot at one stage threatened the very existence of the Congress government in Rajasthan, he was unperturbed and continued with his Yatra. He did not come back to Delhi to mediate between the two leaders. In real politics terms Congress losing the power in Rajasthan would have been a major jolt to it.
In fact what has inspired the people to participate at the rally is his thrust on the moral ethics and adhering to the principles of probity in public life. Notwithstanding launching insinuation campaign and making serious efforts to deride him, the BJP leadership failed to harm him. His crusade for purity in public life and fight against corruption were the basic issues that attracted the people towards him.
While walking in Karnataka in the last four days, his thrust was on corruption acquiring the character of institution and Sanghparivar, especially the Bajrang Dal, Ram Sena and VHP dividing the people of the state on communal line. For quite some time the people of Karnataka, Kannadigas, have been feeling frustrated and dejected of the politics of hatred and communal polarisation being practiced by the RSS and BJP leaders. Since the common people are scared of opposing these guys for fear of being thrashed, the rally has provided them with the much precious opportunity to ventilate their aggrieved feelings.
The people lament that Karnataka is the land of the great Guru Basavanna, who taught building an inclusive society but it is sad that some leaders have been practicing divisive politics and shattering the social harmony and brotherhood. A congress leader said the preaching of the Guru is the guiding light of Bharat Jodo Yatra. Ironically the state has of late been witnessing the worst type of communal strife. The RSS and its organisations have split the Kannadiga society vertically. The local people nurse the view that the controversy around Hijab has been one of the prime example of their attempt to split the Kannadiga society. These people also point out that Muslims of the state have traditionally been the integral part of the society but of late they have been forced to think that they were Muslims.
Practicing politics of morality is really an arduous exercise. Before grabbing the power in Delhi under the leadership of Narendra Modi the BJP projected itself as the party with a difference having strong conviction for moral values and politics, But they soon divorced the values and ethics. Modi became the Maharaja of the empire of New India. It is really an irony that the BJP even did not present the façade of being a neo liberal and consummate party. The politics of the party hit the nadir of moral degradation.
The corrupt politicians who called the shots during the Congress rule were welcomed by Modi with an open arm. It would not be an exaggeration to say that structure and basic character of BJP underwent a fundamental change. A new Congress has emerged on the political horizon of the country. This transformation has not come as surprise. Every political party swears by probity and morality before coming into power. But once in office all such ideas and phrases lost their relevance and ethics.
It is sad that the BJP has failed to stand on the high pedestal of morality. RSS is simply concerned of acquiring power at any cost. There is no denying that they helping Modi to create a New India which would survive on corruption, hatred and violence. These are no more pariah for it.
It is not that the Kannadigas are naïve not to understand of the implication of transformation of the BJP and its annulment with the politics of morality. Their frustration to the prevailing political situation in the state got its manifestation in their massive participation in the rally. Some experts vouch that Yatra did not receive this nature of welcome even in Kerala.
The people here appreciate his remarks while paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary that it is convenient for those in power to appropriate the legacy of the Father of the Nation, it is difficult to walk in his footsteps. Already people, especially of the rural Karnataka have been talking of his untired walkathon. He has been walking continuously for last 27 days. People also applaud his thought; “Just as Gandhiji fought the British Raj, we … (have) embarked on a battle with the very ideology that killed Gandhi. This ideology has delivered inequality, divisiveness and the erosion of our hard-won freedoms in the past eight years. Against this politics of himsa (violence) and ‘asatya’ (lies), the Bharat Jodo Yatra will spread the message of Ahimsa and ‘swaraj’ from Kanyakumari to Kashmir”.
His words; “It might be convenient for those in power to appropriate Gandhiji’s legacy, but it is much more difficult to walk in his footsteps,” has caught the imagination of the local people. People are heard chanting this slogan. The 21-day yatra will touch Chamarajanagar, Mysuru,Mandya, Tumakuru, Chitradurga, Ballari and Raichur districts. From Raichur the march will enter Telangana. Before exiting the state via Raichur, a massive public rally has been planned in Ballari on October 19.
According to Congress leaders, 15,000 to 20,000 supporters are marching with Rahul daily. What has been interesting to note that people of the state have been reminiscing the Mahatma’s march who at 60 had walked from Sabarmati to Dandi, 385 kilometres or so to register his protest against the salt tax. In 1946, an even older Gandhi walked through riot-torn Noakhali, barefoot, for harmony. They try to find out a similarity between the two walks. (IPA Service)