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By Our Correspondent Syed Ali Mujtaba, The India observer, TIO, NJ: Today the idea of India and Indian democracy are in a state of deepening existential crisis. The idea of India is being threatened by the Hindu Rashtra and the Indian democracy is threatened by elected autocracy and one-party rule. These threats emerged after the right-wing forces usurped the political power in India. The centrist forces are lamenting the turn of the event in the country.
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Those keenly watching the political developments in India wish to avert the looming disaster hovering and the threat it poses to the independence and the democratic structure of the country. There is a huge aspiration to reverse this trend, but there is none to rise up to the occasion and call off the bluff.
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The Indian National Congress In this context has embarked on a ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra,’ campaign that starts on September 7 from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and ends at Srinagar in Kashmir. The padayatra will cover a distance of 3,500 km and traverse through 12 states and two Union territories in 125 days of the journey. The march will be flagged off by Rahul Gandhi.
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The idea of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, is to coordinate with mutual resisting forces and unite them on diverse planes to provide a combined and effective opposition to the ruling dispensation in India.
The Congress party in this regard is successful in getting the consent of about 150 well-known representatives of people’s movements from 20 states. These are no political entities working at the grassroots as non-governmental organizations that have agreed to join hands with the Congress mass contact programme of its ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
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This is a significant moment in the relationship between the people’s movement and the political party in the country.
As many may agree, India faces an extraordinary challenge that requires an extraordinary approach to deal with the situation. The alignment of the grass-root groups with the political party could be an effective democratic resistance to the assaults made on democratic institutions and constitutional values of India.
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The challenges faced by the country have forced these grassroots groups to connect with mainstream opposition political parties like Congress to provide effective resistance to the undemocratic forces in India. The joining of such a large number of people’s movements’ organizations is a significant move. It’s expected that something positive may come out of this ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra.’
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The apparent reason the Congress going for the long and arduous for its ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is to raise the issues like inflation, GST, unemployment, social polarization, over-centralization, the death knell to federalism, etc but the real reason is to rejuvenate the Congress party whose morale is sagging every day to wanton desertion and it has lost touch with the people.
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Congress party is faced with the problem of a decline in its vote share and only a few MPs and MLAs are getting elected contesting on its ticket. In this context, the padayatra plan is to connect the Congress party with the people and build a mass base so that it can reemerge as a formidable force to face the electorates.
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According to Congress sources, the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ will follow a linear path from Kanyakumari to Kashmir for logistical and geographical reasons. Every state would have its own padayatra in tandem with the main yatra. The main march would cover approximately 25 kilometers every day by foot and a core group of 100 to 150 people would actually walk the whole distance.
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The party has launched the logo, slogan, and website for the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra.’ The slogan is ‘Mile Kadam-Jude Vatan’, meaning; “the country will be together if our steps are united.”
Here it’s apparent that India’s oldest party is only in the position to provide an alternative to the existing ruling dispensation. The regional forces are quite disjointed and the efforts in the past to form a third front have remained a non-starter. In this context, Congress remains the only alternative to replace the BJP.
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The big picture is, that Congress alone can bind the nation together in a true federal structure with an inclusive society built on communal harmony. The main strength of the Congress party is its ideology which rests on taking India forward on the economic strength of the country. The sheer depth of the Congress ideology has its own inherent strength and if its message is properly taken to the people, it can surely turn the tables.
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There may be many reservations about the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra,’ and its success and failure are a matter of conjecture. However, the fact remains that Congress alone can unite all the forces of resistance and provide an alternative to getting rid of the kind of politics thrust upon the people of this country.
The newfound unity between the people’s movement organization and the Congress party is expected to build a strong opposition to the BJP at the grass root level. Congress represents the forces from above while people’s movement organization represents the forces from below.
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If both these forces come on one page in resisting the policies of the government it can provide an alternative to the BJP.
‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is not merely a road show but a mass contact movement of people’s resistance. If this campaign is fiercely executed in the style of Azadi ka Mahautsav, it may turn out to be a mass resistance that may take shape of ‘roak sako to roak lo.’
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India certainly needs such kind of vehicle for change. A vehicle curated by the people, for the people, and to the people. The people’s involvement is much needed to shape the future of India. Such intervention is a must, keeping in view the general election for the Lok Sabha due in 2024. Can ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ turn out to be a ‘deliverance Day’ for India?
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Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai
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