Critics say it’s a bad strategy to not cover election-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in the yatra. Congress argues it wants to consolidate the existing voter base.
The Congress began its Kanyakumari to Kashmir ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ on 7 September with over 100 yatris, including former party president Rahul Gandhi, setting off on the ostensible long nationwide march.
The yatra — the largest mass outreach programme of its kind by the Congress in recent times — comes at a time when the party faces a slew of questions that need urgent, difficult answers. Answers that may decide its future over the next few years, especially in the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
And that is why, Bharat Jodo Yatra is ThePrint’s Newsmaker of the Week.
What are these critical questions that the Congress needs to answer? Let’s take a look.
The Rahul Gandhi conundrum
Taking questions from the press on Friday, Rahul Gandhi made it “very clear” that he was “not leading” the padyatra. He also refused to answer whether he will be a candidate in the Congress’ presidential election, nominations for which start later this month.
“You like to focus on me and that’s a different issue. I’m not leading this padyatra. I’m participating in this padyatra,” Gandhi told reporters.
To another question, he said: “Whether I become president or don’t become president, this will become very clear when the presidential election takes place in the Congress party.”
He, however, said that he has “very clearly decided” what he is going to do.
This begs several questions.
First, if Rahul Gandhi is participating in the yatra simply as a party MP, why has the party’s communication team inundated the phones of journalists with pictures of only him since the yatra began? Where are the Congress’ other parliamentarians?