By Pradeep Kapoor
LUCKNOW: Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi has entered Western Uttar Pradesh, boosting the morale of the Congress workers and leaders all over the state.
The manner in which RLD workers, BKU members and farmers participated in the Yatra in Western UP has given fresh hope to the Congress for its long-due revival in this region, with the help of possible alliances.
Dominated by the powerful Jat community, Dalits and Muslims, Western UP provides the scope for Congress to rejuvenate itself, especially in the wake of the highly appreciated pan-India Yatra. However, the Congress will have to look for alliance opportunities within the state and improve the party organization from the grounds up.
Given UP’s caste-driven politics, over the last three decades, Congress has lost its core vote bank comprising Brahmins, Dalits and Muslims. While the Brahmin vote went to BJP in the name of Hindutva driven by the Ramjanmabhoomi issue, Muslims rallied behind the Samajwadi Party ever since Mulayam Singh Yadav ordered firing to protect the Babri Mosque, until it was brought down by hordes of rampaging karsevaks in December 1992.In the course of time, Dalits galvanized by their iconic leader Mayawati, got behind the Bahujan Samaj Party.
During the last assembly elections, Congress was reduced to only two seats, with only two per cent vote share, despite hectic campaigning by Priyanka Gandhi.
While UP decides the fate of Indian politics with its 80 Lok Sabha seats, Bharat Jodo Yatra went through only three districts — Ghaziabad, Shamli and Baghpat—covering only 11 assembly constituencies.
Senior leaders and workers from all over the state were sent to Western UP to make the yatra a grand success. Congress leaders and workers now want Rahul Gandhi to do exclusive yatra for UP to revive the party before 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Initially, senior opposition leaders kept away from Bharat Jodo Yatra, thinking its objective was to strengthen only the Congress while damaging their respective vote share. That is why senior opposition leaders refused to join the yatra in its first few weeks. However, after watching the groundswell of popular support for the Yatra all over the country, and how it’s touching the lives of the common citizens of India who are getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Rahul Gandhi personally and tell him about their grievances, the mood among the non-Congress opposition leaders has certainly changed. Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati as well as Jayant Choudhry have sent their public greetings to Rahul Gandhi, congratulating him over his bold move to traverse the length of India on foot, along with lakhs of people joining him on the historic Yatra.
Leader of opposition and Samajwadi Party national president, Akhilesh Yadav, had earlier said that there was no difference between BJP and Congress. Initially, he also thought that Yatra was aimed to only strengthen the Congress which could make fresh outreach towards minority communities and eventually weaken the Samajwadi Party. But after watching the attitude of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and Tejashvi Yadav, and possibility of the broader national alliance against BJP, Akhilesh Yadav has sent his complimentary greetings to Rahul Gandhi.
Similarly, Mayawati had also been very critical of Congress on every issue, but her party MP from Jaunpur joined Bharat Jodo Yatra in Delhi. She has also sent her greetings. Jayant Choudhry, MP and RLD president, as well as alliance partner of the Samajwadi Party, went a step further asking his leaders and workers to welcome and join the Yatra in Western UP.
It is high time the opposition leaders realise that unless they form a strong alliance, it would be very difficult for them to defeat a powerful BJP riding on Hindutva and led by two-time CM Yogi Adityanath in UP, working on major social re-engineering for its Mission 2024. (IPA Service)