Bharat Jodo Yatra

The Bharat Jodo Yatra came to an end after traversing about 3,700 kilometers in four months from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. What was the meaning of this foot march and what has it achieved after its ending? By and large, we knew the objectives of the foot march. It emphasized these things. First, India does not belong to only Hindus. People belonging to different castes, creeds and religions were living in the country from time immemorial.

India belongs to all of them. The BJP is trying to divide people in the name of turning the country into a Hindu Rastra which must be stopped. Then there is the issue of skyrocketing prices. The third thing is joblessness. Never ever so many youths were without jobs in India.

Another thing related to this was the selling of government assets to the crony capitalists like Adani and Ambani. To protest against all this was the objective of the BJY. Anyone with some modicum of common sense will understand that these problems are plaguing the country at the moment. 

The Indian National Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi took out the Bharat Jodo Yatra. There is no doubt that Rahul Gandhi was the main spirit behind it. But a section of people belonging to different civil society organisations and mass movements in the country also participated in it. In certain places opposition political parties who are in a friendlier relationship with the Congress, also joined the Yatra. Without any political affiliation, many distinguished people from different walks of life also joined it. These were the people who joined the foot march.

What did Rahul Gandhi do in it? Is it an easy thing for a person to walk for five months braving extreme hot to cold weather? And what did he wear towards the end of the Yatra when the entire north India was reeling under severe cold waves?  A white t-shirt. What does this physical suffering mean? For the resolution of any serious problem in society, we adopt various ways, ranging from mass movement to dialogue and discussion. But we cannot solve a problem if we don’t understand it. Here suffering has a role to play.

Maybe when we suffer like an ordinary person then only we can feel the pangs and pains of the common man. This puts us at their level and purifies our minds and leads us to a state of inner determination. No one has been able to achieve anything substantial change in society without this process. Buddha, Gandhi and Sankardev are such examples. Is it so that Rahul Gandhi is also trying to learn a thing or two from them? Every year many civilians and Army and CRPF people were killed in violence in the Kashmir valley.

While delivering his concluding speech in Sri Nagar, Rahul said that he could feel and understand the suffering and pains of the families of those people as he himself lost his grandfather and father in violence. To hear him say that was heart-wrenching. That is not what we normally hear from a politician. I don’t know how many politicians will understand this.  In his speech, Rahul didn’t mention any Western reformers but emphasized the values preached and advocated by the Indian reformers and leaders of the Bhakti movement. If we go deeper into them we see a resonance of those principles and values in the preamble to our Constitution. What has happened?

Are we seeing the incarnation of a new-age politician in Rahul Gandhi who is deeply influenced by Indian culture and spirituality? We don’t know! Another thing, Rahul Gandhi was, again and again, appealing to people to get rid of their fear. Aren’t we all under the grip of a fear which has stopped us from saying the right thing and doing the right act? Didn’t Rabindranath goad us to abandon fear in his great poem ‘Where the mind is without fear’? 

A section of people belonging to various civil society organisations and mass movements also joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra under the initiative of social activist Yogendra Yadav. This group involved itself with dedication in the Yatra. It was like a small but deep and clear stream of water. This was reflected whenever Yogendra Yadav spoke about the Yatra on social media which he did quite often.

On different occasions, Rahul Gandhi and Yogendra Yadav spoke separately on the BJY. But we observed a commonality of understanding in what both of them said. The participation of civil society groups in the BJY was questioned by a section of the people. But should we not rise above partisan politics when the constitutional values and the foundation of our republic are in crisis?  Should we not go back to the values of the freedom movement again?

When Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti joined the BJY we saw a sea of people joining them. Rahul Gandhi hoisted the tri-colour at Lal Chowk once the BJY reached Kashmir. This was a historic moment because 75 years ago Nehru hosted the tri-colour at the same place for the first time. We saw a fervent crowd of people rejoicing at the event. It was significant that the tri-colour accompanied the BJY throughout.

Avatar photo

Paresh Malakar

Paresh Malakar is a commentator based in Guwahati. He can be reached at: